Giving Community-Engaged Research a Leg Up

Today’s post from Jean Lee Cole, Director of Community-Engaged Learning and Scholarship and Professor of English, highlights recent faculty & student projects supported by the new Engaged Scholarship Funds mini-grant program offered through Academic Affairs and CCSJ.


What can $1000 do?

This was a question I had in mind when we established the Engaged Scholarship Funds program this past January. Could $1000 really help Loyola faculty and students do meaningful research in–and with– the community? And what forms would that scholarship take?

I initially envisioned faculty and graduate students using the money to fly to conferences where they could present their research, or to purchase equipment or supplies needed for surveys and other community-based research tools. While the funds have certainly been used for this purpose, I’ve been most energized and inspired by some of the more creative ways this money has been spent.

Multilingual Baltimore, one of the most ambitious projects we have funded, has just been completed by faculty and students from the Modern Languages department. This 45-minute video features subtitled interviews conducted by students– in Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and Arabic– of immigrants living in Baltimore. In the end, over 40 people, including students, faculty, staff, and community partners, have gotten involved with this project.

Most of the interviewees are over 50 years old. Faculty members Patrick Brugh and Andrea Thomas thought these older immigrants would be interested in talking with young people about their personal histories and cultural differences. They had originally hoped that students would interview their own relatives, but when not enough of them volunteered, they shifted their focus to immigrants living in Baltimore, and found subjects through the Esperanza Center as well as through local churches and personal contacts in the area.

With this new focus on Baltimore, the project was eligible for Engaged Scholarship Funds, which they used to purchase video equipment to create a training video featuring Spanish faculty member Emma Cervone, on oral history and qualitative research methodology. This video helped student interviewers to develop interview questions and conduct strong interviews.

Receipt of the Engaged Scholarship Funds also helped Patrick and Andrea win an additional $1000 grant from Maryland Humanities to fund the completion of the Multilingual Baltimore video and organize a screening in Baltimore. The video will be screened on campus on October 5, 2017, and at the Creative Alliance on Oct. 12.

Multilingual Baltimore flyer

Andrea says that through the Multilingual Baltimore project, faculty and students alike “met new people in our community who were eager to share their stories.” By videotaping, curating, subtitling, and screening these interviews, this project enables the entire community to learn about Baltimore history, immigrant and youth culture, assimilation, and integration. “This project has become a way to increase linguistic and cultural tolerance,” she said.

The Department of Modern Languages hopes to develop free, short grammatical and vocabulary exercises as companion pieces for these videos so they may be used not only in the screening but in the future to promote discussion both on Loyola’s campus and outside at other community organizations.

Emma Muir ’17 used Engaged Scholarship Funds for another exciting project. As a student intern at Baltimore’s Esperanza Center, she noticed that the organization was beginning to see Arabic-speaking students in their ESOL classes, but the center had no materials for Arabic speakers or instructors who spoke any Arabic. Emma had transferred to Loyola in part because Arabic was offered here; last spring, she was a student in Dr. Inas Hassan’s AB 104.

She proposed using Engaged Scholarship Funds to help her develop ESOL materials for Arabic speakers. With the grant, she was able to commute several times each week from her home in Westminster, MD to the Esperanza Center in East Baltimore, and over the course of several months, she translated the primarily Spanish-language materials used by the Esperanza Center, working with Arabic-speaking clients, many of whom were recently relocated refugees from Syria. She also created lesson plans that were written in English and in transliterated Arabic, so that non-Arabic-speaking volunteers could still use the materials with Arabic-speaking students.

“The funds made an incredible difference in my project,” said Emma. “This type of personal, community work is not supported in a ‘regular’ classroom. I had to be outside the school, and break free from the role of a ‘tutor’ in order to create a more lasting connection with my students, many of whom I regularly met with outside of class. . . . I would highly recommend such an experience to any student who is willing to be vulnerable and learn from others.”

I hope this post gives you some ideas about what you might do. It turns out that even $1000 can have a big impact on our entire community–faculty, students, and the off-campus community alike.

The Engaged Scholarship Funds and Campus-Community Partnerships in Knowledge Grants offered through CCSJ are direct responses to the Ignatian Compass strategic plan to “promote thoughtful and active civic and global engagement among all members of our community.” See the CCSJ website for grant guidelines and a link to the application form– and get engaged.

 

 

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