Georgia College Lets 100 Flowers Bloom in the Civic Agency Initiative
By Guest Blogger, Gregg Kaufman, Georgia College and State University. Edited by Cecilia M. Orphan, AASCU
The first two years of the Civic Agency Initiative coincided with significant institutional change and growing challenges relative to public higher education funding in Georgia. Two of Georgia College and State University’s (GCSU) four colleges searched for new deans, a new dean search is about to begin, and the university changed its administrative leadership model. In January 2010, the president and provost engaged faculty, staff, and students in considering a Quality Enhancement Plan to guide the second five years of the accreditation period as well as a revised mission description. A university system-wide core curriculum review resulted in providing each institution with a degree of latitude in determining its core.
In the midst of this dynamic climate and the natural progression of teaching undergraduate and graduate students, tenure and promotion reviews, supervisory changes, and administrative protocol innovations, the Civic Agency Initiative at Georgia College has navigated the GCSU “winds of change and challenge.” We have kept the two-fold goal of civic education and substantive community-university partnerships central to our work. Our progress cannot be measured by a particular program or infrastructure; however, we can see a web of connections and lines of communication forming. Clearly, our civic agency endeavors are being cross pollinated and we are seeing opportunities for collaboration.
To use a garden metaphor, our progress cannot be represented by Jefferson’s orderly Monticello gardens. Our efforts are akin to Lady Bird Johnson’s wild flower advocacy. We are seeing Bluebells, Columbines, Cornflowers, Yarrow, Red Clover and a variety of thistles through projects like Live Healthy Baldwin, GCSU Rural Economic Empowerment Network – GREEN, Public Achievement courses, Social Justice Theatrical Performances, SENCER Civic Engagement Faculty Development Workshop, GCSU Faculty and Student Civic Engagement Inventory, GCSU Quality Enhancement Plan and Mission Statement with a focus on responsible citizenship, and our Provost’s request to plan a Community Engagement/Applied Scholarship Showcase in conjunction with the April 2011 GCSU Undergraduate Research Conference. We believe we are reaching an institutional “tipping point” relative to civic engagement and agency at Georgia College.