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2017 Meetings

Select a title to read more about a meeting.

January 25th: Glenn Mitoma and Matt Farley, “The Kettering Foundation and curriculum development”.

Glenn Mitoma, Assistant Professor of Human Rights and Education at UConn and the Director of the Dodd Center, and Matt Farley, Executive Director of Campus Compact-Connecticut, presented on their work in facilitating community engagement and partnerships. Glenn and Matt both spoke of their work with the Kettering Foundation—a leader in deliberative democracy. Currently, the Dodd Center is in the midst of a yearlong process working with Kettering under their Centers for Public Life Initiative (CPL).

The CPL initiative mentors people who will direct centers where deliberative forums take place using Kettering's best practice guides for networking, outreach and engagement with centers. Through their collaboration, Glenn and Matt have put together a forthcoming “Food Issue Guide” structured around food security and insecurity. In their presentation to ICD, they discussed creating Issue Guides using the Kettering rubric that focuses the forum discussion around possible solutions, trade-offs, and stakeholder interests in order to come to decisions. A central objective of these discussions is for participants to identify underlying values involved in the topic under debate (e.g., food security) and the threats to those values that arise. Ultimately, the end goal of the deliberative forums and accompanying issue guides is communal action.

For their “Food Issue Guide,” Glenn and Matt have piloted a forum at Conard High School in West Hartford and will have another Forum at Manchester Community College in March with approximately 100 participants.

Please contact Glenn Mitoma (glenn.mitoma@uconn.edu) and Matt Farley (matt.farley@ctcampuscompact.org) with any questions, and visit Kettering to learn more about their programs.

February 8, 2017: Milagros Castillo-Montoya (NEAG) and Jennifer McGarry (NEAG), “Dialogue Work and Teaching at UConn.”

Milagros Castillo-Montoya, Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs, and Jennifer McGarry, Professor and Department Head of Educational Leadership, presented on dialogue work and teaching at the NEAG School of Education at UConn.

The NEAG school has a special focus in issues of social justice and equity, Milagros and Jennifer focused their discussion on their work with the Asset Assessment of Social Justice and Equity at the NEAG School. One goal of their work was to investigate whether all members within NEAG were operating with the same definitions of these core issues. Using a survey, they explored whether they could put together and intergroup notion of social justice and equity. For example, does social justice mean focusing on underrepresented students or is it more about broad equity? The online survey developed by Castillo-Montoya and McGarry was sent to all 221 faculty and staff within NEAG. There were 63 total participants, a majority being faculty members. They found that there were differing definitions of social justice and equity at use among faculty and staff, and thus that it could be worthwhile having group discussions at NEAG on these topics. For instance, although faculty and stuff focused a majority of service efforts to the community in working towards social justice and equity, members did not conceive of their work, or did not work, as public scholarship. In this way, service learning did not translate to public scholarship. The online survey thus provided some interesting information as to how faulty and staff conceives of social justice and equity, as well as ways in which such work can be transformed. It is the hope that this online survey can be replicated in other UConn schools. Results and discussion of this research will appear on the UCHI website soon.

In the mean time please contact Milagros Castillo-Montoya (milagros.castillo-montoya@uconn.edu) and Jennifer McGarry (jennifer.mcgarry@uconn.edu) with any questions you might have.

February 23-24, 2017: Deva Woodly (New School), “Reflection Facilitation Workshop.”

Deva Woodly, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Professor in Politics at the New School for Social Research, ran a two-day training workshop in Civic Reflection—a humanities-based dialogue model for critical conversations.

The Civic Reflection model can be thought of as a triangle–including the participants involved, objects of attention, and the community or civic life–that allows participants to engage in a conversation around their own deep values and reflections through a discussion of a chosen text. Through reading and discussing a short text that is thought-provoking participants are asked about their own civic engagement within the community while learning about the values of other community members. By reflecting around the central questions of civic life, each participant reveals what civic life means to them. In this respect, the conversation is the point of civic reflection.

For those who would like more information about the Civic Reflection method, as designed by Elizabeth Lynn, please visit the Center for Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University. Or if interested in facilitation training, please contact Deva Woodly (woodlyd@newschool.edu).

March 8, 2017: “Humanities in Action” Panel

The “Humanities in Action” panel gathers scholars who have brought their knowledge and humanities perspectives to collaborative community activities. Such public opportunities bring scholars and community members together with research and popular practices, and open new questions for consideration both in and out of the academy. They are important avenues for engaging, disseminating, and enriching all our knowledge. This panel seeks to celebrate such applications and mutual sharing of the humanities in our communities, while also finding ways to foster and support it.

Facilitator: Aimee Loiselle

Panelists: Shayla Nunnally (Political Science and Africana Studies), Mark Overmyer-Velázquez (History and El Instituto), Chris Vials (English and American Studies), Manuela Wagner (Literatures, Cultures & Languages), Mark Kohan (NEAG), and Melanie Newport (History).

March 22, 2017: Planning Workshop

April 12, 2017: Last Meeting of the Semester: Deborah Cornman (InCHIP), “InCHIP: Fostering Innovative Interdisciplinary Research in Health and Health Behavior.”

2016 Meetings

September 7, 2016: First Meeting of the Semester

September 21, 2016: Planning Workshop

October 5, 2016: Duncan Pritchard (Edinburgh), “Philosophy in Prisons: Critical Thinking and Community of Inquiry.”

Duncan Pritchard, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Eidyn Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, presented on the use of an Introduction to Philosophy MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) within prison education (minus the ‘open access’ element).

Using modified MOOCs and a pedagogical approach to learning and teaching known as Community of Philosophical Inquiry (CoPI), Pritchard and his team have gone into Scottish prisons with the objective of teaching philosophy and enhancing the capacity of prisoners to critically think. The CoPI method has been shown to develop intellectual character through encouraging critical self-reflection, a willingness to listen to other people’s opinions, the ability to develop one’s own opinions and present them clearly, and the ability to formulate arguments in support of one’s opinions. The development of these intellectual skills are beneficial in a prison setting as it allows prisoners to gain critical skills that prevent recidivism. The CoPI method used by Pritchard has been shown to increase personal confidence and mutual respect, develop critical listening skills, channel reason over passion, as well as show a willingness in prisoners to shift perspectives and engage in genuine critical thinking.

We encourage interested parties to learn more about Pritchard’s work and explore new ways of fostering critical thinking in non-academic communities. Please contact Duncan Pritchard (duncan.pritchard@ed.ac.uk) with any questions or if you would like to learn more please go to the project website here.

October 19, 2016: Planning Workshop

October 25, 2016: Deva Woodly (New School), “The Pragmatism of Social Movements.”

Talk Abstract: We often think of Social Movements as ideal enterprises; activities undertaken by passionate idealists who eschew the corruption of the status quo for the purity of an imagined better world. While the passion and idealism of social movement participants is certainly real, I argue that if we look at movements through the theoretical lens of American pragmatism, we find that they are an utterly practical, functionally necessary, and immanently effective apart of democratic politics. Taking the contemporary example of the Movement for Black Lives, we will explore the pragmatic imagination, organization, articulation, and political participation of this country’s ascendant 21st century movement.

November 16, 2016: Margaret Rubega (EEB), Robert Wyss (Journalism), Robert Capers (EEB), and Jae-Eun Joo (NEAG), “Public Discourse and Scientific Knowledge.”

Robert Capers (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB)), Todd Newman (EEB/Communications), Margaret Rubega (EEB) and Robert Wyss (Journalism) presented on their ongoing work that matches students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Journalism in order to build lines of communication and understanding with scientists and the public.

They spoke about the guiding questions and goals driving this important work of translation and relationship-building across “foreign languages,” and the techniques employed to strengthen this crucial aspect of contemporary public discourse. They discussed their 3-credit class where journalism and EEB students work on building mutual understanding with ICD. They noted that the particular framing of the information and issues provided is as important as eliminating jargon, reaching out, and using a tone of humility in order for productive discussion between the two groups. Of particular interest to those in the audience were the techniques and metrics the presenters have developed to measure the effects of these pedagogical interventions. More broadly, attendees were impressed with the connections this team has built throughout the UConn community, including the writing center, the math and psychology departments, and schools of nursing and engineering.

We are grateful to their reaching out to the ICD community, and encourage interested parties to learn more about their work and possibly explore new partnerships in this project of connecting science and humanities in the interest of improving public discourse. Please contact Margaret Rubega (margaret.rubega@uconn.edu) and/or Bob Wyss (robert.wyss@uconn.edu).

November 30, 2016: John Sarrouf (Essential Partners), “Dialogue and Humanities-Based Facilitation Training.”

John Sarrouf, Director of Program Development and Strategic Partnerships at Essential Partners, presented on dialogue work in communities and ran some humanities-based facilitation scenarios with ICD members.

Attendees were split into groups of three and given discussion questions with each participant getting an equal amount of time to speak and then listen to others. For example, participants were asked to share their answers to the question, “When did you feel like an outsider and then become part of an inside group.” This model of facilitation is organized around the “reflective-structured dialogue” model, in which dialogue is meant to help individuals find "common grounding" in heightened times of conflict and division. Sarrouf began with asking participants their names and their intentions regarding dialogue work—in particular, what individuals are bringing and leaving behind when they do this work.  These questions and subsequent reflections fall within the Essential Partners framework with the goal of using dialogue to help people get "un-stuck" in their ways by shaping the flow of conversations. Stuck conversations lead to stuck relationships and stuck communities. The primary goal of dialogue is then to pursue mutual understanding by altering the ways people converse, which will then alter relationships and communities.

We encourage interested parties to learn more about their work and possibly explore new partnerships by using reflective-structured dialogue. Please contact John Sarrouf (john@whatisessential.org) with any questions or if you would like to learn more please go to http://www.whatisessential.org.