UTEP Directors Edit Book on Community Engagement, High-Impact Practices

More than ever, students and faculty from institutions of higher education have used civic engagement to move beyond their traditional confines. Two directors at The University of Texas at El Paso have prepared a guide for those eager to make the community their classroom.

Azuri Gonzalez, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, and Gina Núñez-Mchiri, Ph.D., director of Women’s and Gender Studies and associate professor of anthropology, edited “Community Engagement and High Impact Practices in Higher Education.” The book addresses how UTEP faculty, students and community partners team up based on civic needs and mutual interests.

Gonzalez said she was excited when Núñez-Mchiri approached her about collaborating on the book.

“We came up with a vision of sharing experiences and examples of how so many different faculty members, students, and their community partners have managed to work together to address issues in the community,” Gonzalez said.

As she put together the book’s content, Gonzalez noted her fascination with how the perspective of community engagement could change based on who guides the project.

“I was also impressed by the depth and scope of each of the projects and just how committed our UTEP faculty members are to effectively impacting student learning while working collaboratively with community partners,” Gonzalez said.

The book is a collection of cases about engaged and active hands-on teaching and learning strategies in a multilingual, multicultural region. It challenges students, faculty and community partners to explore how high-impact practices can serve a community. Various UTEP faculty members wrote the chapters and, in some cases, students and community partners co-wrote the text.

For example, UTEP faculty member Sandor Dorgo, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology, wrote about a successful undergraduate capstone course he established for the field. Dorgo said he was eager to share his unique experience because it could provide ideas and guidance for others to develop fieldwork experiences for their students.

“As a must-have resource for educators using high-impact practices in academia, this book provides the readers with an in-depth understanding and practical guidance for developing community engagement programs in higher education settings,” Dorgo said.

Gonzalez said faculty members also can find tips and recommendations on how to implement issue-based interventions or how to integrate models of engagement in their research and student courses. When used in the classroom, the book also engages students in the learning process as proactive learners through a series of reflective issues and practice questions.

“This book represents the culture and spirit of UTEP, an institution committed to serving the El Paso del Norte border region inside the classroom and in the community,” Núñez-Mchiri said. “We are excited to share this resource with faculty, students, community partners, as well as with higher education leaders. At UTEP, we teach, engage and transform lives and communities, one partnership at a time.”

Click here to learn more about the contents of “Community Engagement and High Impact Practices in Higher Education.”

Author: Christina Rodriguez – UTEP Communications