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Community Learning

Last week, students in Professor Eric Galm’s First year Seminars “Intro to World Music” and “Exploring Music and Human Rights” welcomed Carlos Hernandez Chávez, a muralist, musician, visual artist. In Music and Human Rights, students explore theoretical approaches to human rights and music’s relation to human rights throughout the world. And who better to learn from? Chávez arrived in Hartford from Mexico City in 1967 and his artistic and humanitarian work has been displayed at institutions in the U.S., Mexico, Greece, Puerto Rico, and the UK.

Throughout the Music and Human Rights course, Professor Eric Galm encourages first year students to think about different ways that music has been used in group organization, and in particular how political leaders, groups, and musicians have used music to praise political achievements or rise up in protest in various geographical areas include Latin America, the United States, and more.

This perspective also holds importance for students when thinking about artists in Hartford. For example, one of Chávez’ murals in Hartford City Hall tells the story of his family’s migrant-worker roots, the pride he feels in those roots, and his movement to Hartford.

Thank you Professor Eric Galm for bringing this and many other important presentations and performances to Trinity.


At Trinity College we define Community Learning courses as those that include perspective taking and mutually beneficial relationships with community partners. If you are interested in building a Community Learning component into your course, or you believe your course should be designated  as a Community Learning course, contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu.

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Community Learning

#ICYMI last week Trinity College Public Humanities Collaborative students presented at the Summer Research Symposium! Scroll through the photos below for details on the projects they worked on this summer (and upcoming events). Thank you to Director of Community Learning and PHC Coordinator Megan Faver Hartline for making this all possible 👏


 

 

 

 

  • Sophia Lopez ’22 presented on working with Professor Alexander Manevitz on data visualization of social networks in Seneca Village — a free black community that was destroyed to build Central Park — and on creating a digital tour of urban renewal in Willimantic with Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. (Not pictured, team member Kaytlin Ernske ’20). Read more about their project in our blog post “Forgotten Pieces of Seneca Village” https://cher.trincoll.edu/phcsenecavillage/

Congratulations to all the teams and presenters! If you’re interested in learning more about Community Learning at Trinity College or the Public Humanities Collaborative, visit http://cher.trincoll.edu/community-learning. 

 

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Community Learning

The Center for Hartford Engagement & Research is proud to announce the 2019 Community Learning Research Fellows! This is a competitive program that allows selected students with previous community engagement experience to challenge their learning and perspective by taking on a research or creative project. Fellows will spend their semester collaborating with faculty advisors and Hartford partners to design and execute their research projects. 

Community Consultant James Jeter and Professor Laura Holt

Fellows have access to a number of resources and great minds in the Trinity community– they’ll attend meetings with their faculty advisors and community partners, prepare questions and request feedback on their research design from various faculty and staff during monthly colloquium meetings, and attend weekly fellows seminars to learn about research design and methods with instructor Laura Holt and TA Samantha McCarthy and Community Consultant James Jeter. 

Each week the fellows are exploring a series of topics: identifying a question and designing a research project, communicating a research plan, developing good interview skills and techniques, analyzing and visualizing data, designing visual presentations and posters, and managing expectations and addressing challenges in collaborative projects. Instructor Laura Holt has a syllabus full of helpful resources, presentations from subject area experts in the Trinity community such as Instructional Technologist Dave Tatem and Liberal Arts Action Lab Director Megan Brown, as well as a number of useful public resources such as the Community Toolbox.

The Fall 2019 Community Learning Research Fellows are:

Emily Schroeder ‘20 – Parents Enrolled in College

Community Partner: CT Office of Early Childhood (CECA)

Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

  • CT Office of Early Childhood asked, “How do parents with young children attempt to balance their personal educational and career goals with their child care needs, and are there differences between parents currently enrolled in community college versus those who also desire to enroll but have not yet done so?” Currently, CT is one of only two states that does not allow parents in educational opportunities (higher ed, ESL, job training, adult education) to continue qualifying for childcare subsidies. Emily will conduct qualitative interviews with parents enrolled in community college and parents not enrolled, which will be made available on the web. This research and public presentation will play an important role in CECA’s lobbying efforts.

Isabelle Alexandre ‘20 – Maternal Mortality in Connecticut

Community Partner: YWCA Hartford

Faculty advisor: Dina Anselmi

  • YWCA of Hartford asks for research that compares maternal care and postpartum care for Medicaid and private insurance companies, with a particular focus on how this affects black women in Connecticut and the role of insurance coverage for doula care and midwife care. Isabelle will research the history of Medicaid in Connecticut and the prevalence of maternal mortality in Connecticut. Additionally, there will be the opportunity to conduct focus groups and interviews about people’s experiences throughout and after their pregnancies. This research will help the YWCA advocate for insurance coverage for doulas in Connecticut.

Alejandra Zaldivar ‘20 – Bilingual Education Programs in Hartford

Community Partner: City of Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez

Faculty advisor: Aidalí Aponté-Aviles

  • City of Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez asked for help to “Compare and contrast the bilingual education programs set up in place and their outcomes in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and today, focusing on the Spanish speaking population of Connecticut. Alejandra will conduct a literature review on the topic, draft a survey for relevant populations, and conduct several interviews with former teachers, students, and other people who started the bilingual education program in Hartford. This retrospective research will help the Councilwoman to reactivate bilingual education programs in Hartford. 

Jackie Monzon ‘20 and Brenda Ordonez ‘22 – Improving ESOL Programs

Community Partner: Jubilee House

Faculty advisor: Stefanie Wong

  • The Jubilee House asked, “How can we ensure students at the Jubilee House are getting the best quality education and resources? How can we improve our intake practice to understand needs, goals, and motivations? Specifically, how do a parent’s studies impact their children? What practices and supports could be added into the Jubilee Program to promote family literacy?” Jackie and Brenda will research intake processes at similar organizations and conduct qualitative interviews in-person with Jubilee House students. Their research in these areas will help improve the quality of the ESOL program.

Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ‘22 and Richard Perry ‘22 – Gun Violence Prevention

Community Partner: CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities that Care

Faculty advisor: Sarah Raskin

  • CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities that Care asked, “What are the origins or the firearms uses in Connecticut homicides?” Currently, there is no comprehensive public database that documents the firearms that are used, but this information is critical in order to understand the the flow of illicit firearms in and out of Connecticut and subsequently advocate for legislation to stem the inflow. Olivia and Richard will first work with local police departments to catalog gun homicides that have occurred across Connecticut in 2019, then they will examine gun violence legislation in neighboring states.

William Tjeltveit ‘20 – National Park Usage

Community Partner: National Park Service

Faculty advisor: Daniel Douglas

  • The National Park Service and City of Hartford asked, “How can we best estimate and model park usage for Coltsville National Historical Park/Colt Park? What are the various strategies that have been employed elsewhere and how can they best be used and adapted here?” Will will synthesize past data of  formal and informal park usage, research other areas’ and parks’ best practices for measuring and estimating usage, and help the City estimate visitation for Colt Park and shifts expected as it becomes part of a larger National Historical Park.

Eleanor Faraguna ‘21 – Advocating for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education

Community Partner: NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut

JackFaculty advisors: Erica Crowley and Jack Dougherty

  • NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut asked for a report on K-12 sexual health education campaigns in other states that have successfuly passed statewide legislation. Eleanor will create a report that will include best-practices organizing/advocacy models and resources, case studies on successful campaigns, and qualitative interviews with key stakeholders in case study sites and Connecticut to guide the Connecticut Healthy Youth Coalition as they build capacity.

Renita Washington ‘22 and Manny Rodriguez ‘20 – Factors Affecting Infant-PreK Child Care

Community Partner: Trinity College Community Child Care Center (TC4)

Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

  • TC4 asked, “What types of families (by geography, SES, Trinity or community membership, other demographic factors) has TC4 served/subsidized with scholarships over time? What factors do families, especially higher income families, look for when deciding on a child care center for their children?” Renita will examine existing data about families served at TC4 and conduct interviews with parents.
  • TC4 also asked, “How have state funding policy changes, such as the growth of pre-K magnet schools, affected the Trinity College Child Care Center and similar institutions?” Manny will archive information from the CT Legislature and other sources to understand changes to state funding policies related to childcare since 2003, and he will also conduct qualitative interviews with parents who have children in child care.

Congratulations to the Fall 2019 Research Fellows on a strong start to the semester. We are looking forward to working with you and seeing the results of your projects later this Fall.


To learn more about the Community Learning Research Fellows Program, visit http://cher.trincoll.edu/fellows or contact Laura.Holt@trincoll.edu.

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Community Learning

Community Action Gateway students are starting the semester by jumping into partner projects with five Hartford organizations: Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, Night Fall, Make the Road CT, Public Allies CT, and the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. Partners from each of these organizations came to Trinity’s campus on Thursday, Sept. 19th to meet with students and talk about the projects they are starting together–60 second videos highlighting key aspects of each organization. 

Over the next six weeks, students will interview members of their organization, film special events, and research what their organization does in order to create a video that will help the organization reach its goals. Following their filming and research, they will participate in video workshops and several peer feedback sessions. Once the videos are complete, students and partners will come back together in November for a celebration dinner to showcase the videos and talk about ways to connect organizations in Harford with students at Trinity. 

In addition to direct experience creating products for community partners, students also get the opportunity to learn more about community change work happening in Hartford from multiple perspectives. Professor Stefanie Wong says that the overall goal is for students to learn to “put their social justice beliefs in action by building connections between Trinity and Hartford. These kinds of projects help them see how they can continue this kind of work for the rest of their time at Trinity and wherever they end up next.” 

Shanee Ransom and Lindsay Tengatenga ’08 of Public Allies CT talk with Marshall Montner ’23, Leah Winters ’23, and Caroline Killian ’23
Jennifer Crookes Carpenter of Night Fall, Micaela Rufus ’23, Addison Cox ’23, and Catherine Doyle ’23 make plans for their partnership.
Denise Rhone ’10, Maddie Granato, Allie Rau ’23, Reagan Flynn ’23, Meg Dubois, and Camm Mattison ’23 are partnering on a video for CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund.
Riley Nichols ’23, Kenyatta Thompson of the Katal Center, Tiana Sharpe ’23, and Makayla Boucher ’23 make plans for their video.
Leida Ramos, Norma Martinez-Hosang, Silveria Hernandez, Imelda Diaz, Rosario Tepoz and her daughter Belen of Make the Road CT are working with Josh Jacoves ’23, Leslie Macedo ’23, and Citlalli Rojas Huerta ’23 to create a video for their current campaign.

This is the third year that Community Action Gateway students have created videos for community partners. Check out videos from 2018 and 2017

If you are interested in learning more about how to apply for the Community Action Gateway for 2020-21 or in partnering with Gateway (or other Trinity) students, contact Director Megan Faver Hartline

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Community Learning

Please join the Community Learning program in celebrating the Trinity College faculty who will be part of the 2019-20 Community Learning Faculty Fellows program! This program was created to support faculty in developing teaching connections with Hartford community partners. These faculty will meet six times throughout the year to discuss best practices for partnering with community organizations, hear from experienced community learning instructors, and workshop plans for their courses. Each fellow also receives a $1,500 stipend and funds for their community partner. 

This year’s faculty and courses include:

Leah Cassorla, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric
RHET 125: Writing for a Digital World, Fall 2019
This course is designed to help students think critically about the role of the visual in written communication today, and students will partner with Hartford organizations to help them create print and digital communications to reach multiple audiences. 

Elise Castillo, Ann Plato Fellow in Educational Studies and Public Policy and Law
PBPL/EDUC: Privatization and Public Policy: Who Gains and Who Loses?, Fall 2020
The course takes a critical policy analytic approach to the study of privatization, and students will work with Connecticut state policymakers and civil rights organizations to deepen their understandings of how privatization affects communities throughout Hartford and Connecticut.

Rachel Moskowitz, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Law
PBPL 354: Politics of Education Policy, Fall 2020
Students will learn about how politics shape the development of education policy-making at all levels of government in the United States, including through a community partnership project in Hartford that focuses on the specifics of local policy issues. 

Ibrahim Shikaki, Assistant Professor of Economics
ECON 224: Macroeconomics and Inequality, Spring 2020
Students will use their growing understanding of macroeconomics to study inequality in Harford: dissecting the causes of income inequality, the relations between personal and functional distribution of income, and the political and social impacts of high-income inequality. 

Lynn Sullivan, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts
STAR 240: Sculpture and Ideas, Spring 2020
As students examine public sculpture within Hartford, they will critically consider the complex social and governmental mechanisms that influence the production of art in public spaces, and they will collaborate with institutional partners to follow a project in development.

To learn more about the Community Learning Faculty Fellows program, please visit our website or contact Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline.

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Community Learning
Fede Cedolini ’22 and Tanuja Budraj ’21 discuss archival documents at the Jewish Historical Society.

Over the summer, Trinity College students Tanuja Budraj ’21 and Fede Cedolini ’22 worked in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford on a new exhibit, “Trailblazer: Connecticut Jewish Women Making History.” This traveling exhibit, which opens September 3rd and runs through October 2nd, 2019, highlights the stories “women’s rights activists, artists, journalists, and health and education reformers in the Hartford area and beyond who overcame obstacles of gender, social class, and religious identity to make changes that continue to impact our lives today.”


The students began their work by delving into the archives available to them at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, the Hartford Public Library, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the Trinity College library– their task was to identify important photographs, newspaper articles, and documents to piece together the lives and stories of each trailblazer. These materials were the basis for creating both a traveling paneled exhibit as well as an expanded online version of the exhibit which will be on the Jewish Historical Society’s website. Community partner Estelle Kafer says she hopes the online version of the exhibit will be used as an educational tool that can reach much larger numbers of people than a physical exhibit.

 

We were able to catch up with Tanuja and Estelle on site at the Jewish Historical Society this summer. When reflecting on the project, Tanuja said having the exposure to lots of digital tools and being able to identify her skills as historian has been a major benefit to her.

I think [this experience] is giving me a preview into what history degree holders do, and what they could do, and now I can say I’ve had an experience working in an archive, which is very important in historical work whether you’re writing a book, or teaching, or doing archival work. I’ve also developed better research skills and the program has exposed me to what it’s like to be a researcher 9-5. -Tanuja Budraj ’21

 

 


The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is a summer research opportunity that brings together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in Hartford to work on public humanities: the study of how people interpret stories of our human experience. PHC is a component of Trinity College’s Summer Research Programthat is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. To learn more, visit http://cher.trincoll.edu/phc or contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu.

To learn more about the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, visit jhsgh.org 

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Community Learning

It’s pop up time! Last week, Public Humanities Collaborative students Josselyn Zaldivar ’20, Brenda Piedras ’21 and Stephanie Cerda-Ocampo ’21 hosted pop ups at Hartford Public Library branches to share their oral history interviews and web content on the Voces de Migracion project with Hartford History Center and Trinity College‘s Watkinson Library. This was a culmination of their work this summer which included three components: working to conduct oral history interviews to add to the project, reserving the materials and making them publicly accessible online, and planning the interactive pop-up programs to share with the community.

This week they had pop-ups at Hartford Public Library Dwight, Campfield, and Park branches on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. A few members of the CHER team took a walk over to the Park Street branch of the library to join the audience. The pop-up focused on short video clips from their oral history interviews focused on 1) tobacco work couples with the creation of baseball teams to create social cohesion amongst Puerto Ricans, and 2) the significance of women activists in community organizing and community power, such as Maria Sanchez and Olga Mele. Dr. Christina Bleyer, Professor Aidali Aponte-Aviles, Megan Faver Hartline, and community partner Jasmin Agosto ’10 were fantastic mentors to the students this summer.

I think they are super incredible and thoughtful students – couldn’t have asked for a better match for this project. Wishing they could be stewards of this collection for the next few years… -Jasmin Agosto ’10, Hartford History Center

Thank you Dr. Christina Bleyer, Jasmin Agosto, Prof. Aidali Aponte-Aviles, and Megan Faver Hartline!


To learn more about the Public Humanities Collaborative, visit http://cher.trincoll.edu/phc or contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu.

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Community Learning

Since mid-May, Trinity students in the Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) have been working diligently at sites across Hartford to complete humanities projects with community organizations and with Trinity faculty members. They have been delving into archives at the Watkinson, Connecticut Historical Society, and the Jewish Historical Society; interviewing members of the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Hartford; transcribing, analyzing, and creating data visualizations on urban displacement in New York and the global wine trade; and so much more. Throughout these projects, students have been gaining skills and experience across work in the humanities and beyond.

In addition to their work on these projects, students attend a weekly lunch and learn session, and for the past several weeks, the students have been our presenters. Each group of students has created a short workshop on the tools and ideas they have been learning: helping others understand what their projects are and how they’ve been completing them. Most importantly, each presentation includes a short discussion of how everyone could use these tools moving forward–whether on academic, professional, or personal projects. 

A frequent feature of these presentations was giving credit to those who helped them along the way, particularly Dr. Mary Mahoney and Fanny Julissa García. Mahoney, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Trinity, sat down with many of the groups and helped them think through what tools would be most useful for their projects and answered many questions for them about the specifics of the tools they chose. She also gave an introductory workshop on the KnightLab suite of tools, including StoryMap and TimeLine, to the entire PHC group. Garcia offered a workshop on “Oral History for Social Change” that many PHC students attended, and students presenting on their interview work frequently pointed back to this workshop as key for helping them think through ethical and logistical issues of how to conduct and use interview research. Because students were willing to talk about who helped them achieve their goals in these projects, we were all able to see that public-facing humanities projects are inherently collaborative efforts; they require teams of people to iteratively conceptualize, think through, execute, and revise as projects come together.  

In these presentations, we get to see past the glossy one sentence version of the goals of a project into the messiness of what it means to get this work done. Professor Chris Hager pointed out that these projects showcase the kind of work that is key to both a liberal arts education and the humanities writ large – work that must be done by people, not robots. The transcription, interviewing, exhibit creation, and other humanities work that these students are doing requires thoughtful, inquisitive people who are willing to consider the historical and contemporary contexts of their projects. This work also necessitates deliberate perspective taking as students consider how to engage audiences so they too can deeply consider the many different stories of the human experience portrayed in these projects. 


Kaytlin Ernske ’20 and Sophia Lopez ’22 used data visualization platforms Cytoscape and Palladio in their work on Seneca Village with Professor Alex Manevitz. They were mapping relationships to better tell the story of this primarily African-American community who were displaced during the creation of Central Park. Through relational mapping, Kaytlin explained that the names she saw on paper while transcribing became real, and she started seeing the families, the stories, and the real lives of these people. For Sophia, learning about “urban renewal” through this and their project with Connecticut Fair Housing has been exciting, and she’s seeing connections between these projects, other work she’s done in Hartford, and her community back home in LA. You can view their video reflection and read more about their projects here



Yisbell Marrero ’20 and Kaylen Jackson ’21 shared how they used Excel to create a Transatlantic food database that compares food regulations and norms between the US and EU, working with Professor Thomas Lefebvre. Because the goal of the project is to make this work public on a website (http://whobannedit.com), they need to consider issues of user experience and how to make this database easily accessible. Organization and attention to detail were key for getting this done! In the picture above, Yisbell and Kaylen stand outside the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hartford, a site for their project with the Coltsville National Park where they are conducting research for an interactive website documenting the changes and development of the Coltsville site from its inception in 1855 to today as it evolves into a National Historical Park.

Download a PDF of their presentation “Excel Explained” here.

PHC 2019 Yisbell and Kaylen – Excel Explained

Emma Sternberg ’21 and Carlson Given ’20 created their own guide for transcribing historical documents, using the knowledge they gained while transcribing sermons from Mohegan preacher Joseph Johnson at the Connecticut Historical Society. In this guide, they attend not only to the obvious concerns of reading handwriting, figuring out hard to read letters, and double-checking your work, but also embodied concerns like when to know to take a break. Emma and Carlson noted that guides like the one they created will only become more necessary as fewer and fewer schools in the US teach cursive and, thus, historical documents become even more complicated to read. 

Download a PDF of Emma and Carlson’s transcription guide here.

Carlson and Emma – A Guide to Transcribing

Josselyn Zaldivar ’20, Brenda Piedras ’21 and Stephanie Cerda-Ocampo ’21 discussed their approach to oral history collecting and archiving. In their work with Professor Aidali Aponte Aviles, Dr. Christina Bleyer, and the Hartford History Center, they have been conducting oral history interviews with Latinx leaders in Hartford to learn more about their experiences in the city. Key topics of the presentation were forming and maintaining relationships with narrators, checking for consent throughout the interview process, and setting up the interview site correctly. Josselyn, Brenda, and Stephanie exemplified the sorts of thoughtfulness and consideration required for oral history interviewing on complex topics.



Tanuja Budraj ’21 and Federico Cedolini ’22 showed us how they used Airtable as a database for archival research on the international wine trade with Professor Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre. After trying out several other tools, they chose Airtable because it works efficiently to store and organize archival material; is customisable for a variety of projects; and is particularly easy for multiple users to use at once. This database will be especially useful for Professor Regan-Lefebvre because it allows multiple filters to sort through the 3,600 photos of archival documents the students entered. In the pictures above, you can see Tanuja and Fede working on their second project with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, an exhibit about Jewish women in Hartford who made a difference in the city. 

Download a copy of their presentation here.

Tanuja and Fede – PHC Presentation- British Wine Empire

Manny Rodriguez ’20 and Hendrick Xiong-Calmes ’22 discussed their process and the equipment they used while interviewing LGBTQ Hartford residents with Professor Nick Marino. Tips and tricks include breakfast questions to help people warm up to interviewing, setting room tone to make the audio easier to edit later, and handing people a stress ball so they have something quiet to do with their hands. Using these interviews, Professor Marino is creating a podcast that will serve as an oral history podcast capturing the narratives of LGBTQ+ senior citizens in Hartford. The Chez Est, the oldest LGBTQ+ bar in Hartford, will host the podcast on their website, which will help establish the Chez as a historic site in Hartford.

Download a copy of their presentation, including tips and tricks about interviewing for podcasts, here.

Hendrick+Manny PHC Group Presentation

Remi Tupper ‘20 and Kyre William-Smith ‘21 shared how they have used Timeline and WordPress in their work archiving and making public the Watkinson Library’s new science fiction collection with Professor Chloe Wheatley. Both tools required trial and error and some messing around as they figured out how to create a website and visual aids that are easy to navigate and help visitors understand the collection. In their work with the Wadsworth Atheneum and Amistad Center on their new Afro-Cosmologies exhibit, Remi and Kyre talked about how to approach daunting tasks–like writing up information about almost a hundred artists involved in the exhibit. One key takeaway for both projects was how to manage their time and the realities of how long this kind of work really takes as well as how to make sure the content they create is accessible to other people.

Download a PDF of Remi and Kyre’s presentation here.

small wadsworth watkinson presentation


Esther Appiah ‘21 and Ali Kara ‘20 talked about the process of wading through the array of tools they’ve used for their projects with Dr. Fiona Vernal and the West Indian Social Club and with Professor Maurice Wade. For the West Indian Social Club’s project on “Settlement and Housing in Post-War Hartford, CT”, students have used Tableau for data collection and visualization, iPhone voice recorders for interviews, and Temi for transcriptions. With Professor Wade, they have conducted primary source research on anti-colonialism to add to the Caribbean Anti-Colonial Thought Archive and used Timeline and WordPress to add information and resources to the website itself. Esther and Ali show us how on humanities projects, one tool generally isn’t enough–projects about the human experience require complex, multilayered approaches that include many tools!

Download a PDF of Esther and Ali’s presentation here.

Esther and Ali – PHC Presentation 2019.pptx

The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is a summer research opportunity that brings together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in Hartford to work on public humanities: the study of how people interpret stories of our human experience. PHC is a component of Trinity College’s Summer Research Program that is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. To learn more, visit http://cher.trincoll.edu/phc or contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu.

 

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Community Learning

Last week, we caught up with Kaytlin Ernske ‘20, Sophia Lopez ‘22, and Professor Alexander Manevitz (pictured above) to talk with them about their Public Humanities Collaborative project. The student researchers are assisting Professor Manevitz this summer as he continues to study Seneca Village for his current book manuscript, The Rise and Fall of Seneca Village: Remaking Race and Space in Nineteenth-Century New York City. Seneca Village was a predominantly African American community in New York City during the antebellum period. The neighborhood was a growing free black community with strong social ties, schools, markets, and churches where residents were establishing themselves by buying property and making a sustainable community. Then, the City of New York destroyed that community to build Central Park. This summer, Kaytlin and Sophia have been working to piece together forgotten pieces of the neighborhood and highlight the voices of marginalized New Yorkers that have been lost in the archives. 

Kaytlin and Sophia’s work this summer focuses on using public records to make meaning of what Seneca Village was before its destruction when all the residents were forced by the City to sell their property. They have spent hours transcribing and tagging primary source documents property deeds, petitions, school records, church records, and more. Now, they are beginning to use digital tools to organize these documents and attach meaning and social networks to Seneca Villagers.

Professor Alex Manevitz said the meaning making part of their research are critical to the focus of his book. Much of what exists about Seneca Village in archival records is just small fragments of official documentation such as tax records or census records.

So much of what we know about Seneca Village in terms of what survives in the archival record…. Because they’re poor or middle class, because they’re Black, because they’re on the outskirts of the City, there’s very little of what they produce that survives in the archives beyond 150+ years. But once the City comes knocking and wants to build Central Park, then they’re in the public record… So a big part of this is–How do we get to social lives of these people through these official documents that often seem like soulless data points? How do we tell people’s stories and learn about people’s lives through that? – Professor Alex Manevitz

The meaning making and the social network mapping that the students are doing is work that has never been done about Seneca Village before. In general, information about Seneca Village is hard to find, and what’s easiest to find is extremely negative. Readily available information consists mostly of propaganda pieces that equate residents of Seneca Villagers to garbage, animals, the swamps they live near and more– which was used to justify displacing the entire community.

“I thought it was powerful to see people who for a long time have been disenfranchised and pushed to the edges of society to tell their own stories. Despite that they had to go through a legal process and it’s in these official documents, it actually showed the power of people fighting for themselves — and most people didn’t have attorneys to [write petitions] for them, so when they wrote their documents they were writing about their stories and their needs and refusing to be ignored. – Kaytlin Ernske ’20

Kaytlin, Sophia, and Professor Manevitz explore using data visualization tools to show the social networks of Seneca Village residents

One of the themes woven throughout Kaytlin and Sophia’s work in PHC this summer is considering how histories of discriminatory housing policies inform current day and the future. Throughout the summer, students in PHC have been learning about the different functions of public humanities projects– projects that aim to take specialist or academic knowledge and make it accessible to the general public. In this case, a public humanities project that brings life to the experiences of Seneca Villagers aligns with so much of what we see today. Kaytlin and Sophia both noticed parallels between the destruction of Seneca Village and current urban renewal projects.

I think it’s very important to note how the stories we’re discovering are relevant today. In our time at CT Fair Housing we’re studying urban renewal in Willimantic and we’ve been learning about urban renewal projects in the past and they’re very similar to this, (what happened in Seneca Village). You see marginalized communities being displaced and a city being built, and a huge question that comes up during our work with them is who is the city being built for? That’s still very relevant today and we’re seeing the connections between this and what’s happening in Hartford.” -Sophia Lopez ’22

For the community partner component of their project, they have been working with CT Fair Housing Center to study urban renewal in Willimantic and create a digital tour. They have been making connections between the destruction of Seneca Village, urban renewal in Willimantic in the 1970s, and current day urban renewal in Hartford and the way marginalized populations have been and are being affected. 

Overall, Kaytlin and Sophia have said this summer program has provided them an opportunity to do intensive research

they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do.

“I think I’ve gained independence as a researcher. Before it was papers where it was like get the research done quickly and in by the paper’s due date. But now I have more time and I have a mentor who is able to show me what real effective research looks like.” – Kaytlin Ernske ’20

 

This project is a lot bigger than anything I’ve worked on before. When I’m writing a paper for school my information doesn’t really go beyond articles I can find with Google Scholar, but this is an introduction to new types of sources, concept mapping and piecing together information. It’s a completely new approach. I’ve never experienced anything like this.” – Sophia Lopez ’22

Although the Public Humanities Collaborative summer program is just 10 weeks long, Professor Manevitz says the work Kaytlin and Sophia have been doing this summer contributes to a much longer lasting project. He hopes to continue working on the book manuscript, publish, and ensure that all the information is public. The goal is to have the databases Sophia and Kaytlin are working on online so that researchers and the general public can see the stories of real people who lived in Seneca Village– as a counternarrative to the easily accessible negative propaganda that is accessible now. These databases will be an invaluable resource for future researchers.

 


The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is a summer research opportunity that brings together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in Hartford to work on public humanities: the study of how people interpret stories of our human experience. PHC is a component of Trinity College’s Summer Research Program funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, funds 16 students per summer. To learn more, visit http://cher.trincoll.edu/phc or contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu.

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Community Learning, News, Urban Ed

On Thursday, June 27, over thirty Trinity students and staff, HMTCA and other local public school teachers, and community partners gathered at the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research to learn about how they can use oral histories to create social change in their communities. We were led by guest facilitator Fanny Julissa García, a Honduran American oral historian contributing work to Central American Studies with a focus on applied oral history and social justice. Fanny explains, “Oral history is about meeting people where they’re at and allowing them to tell their stories.”

Oral history projects can be a daunting task if you’ve never done one before (or even if you have!). To introduce participants to the challenge, Fanny passed out an example of one of her first projects titled “Show Me Your Hands,” where she collected and archived life histories of Central American refugee women detained in the United States. Fanny said,

“I documented these stories with photos of women’s hands, and I took these photos using my iPhone. You don’t need fancy equipment to begin a project like this and there are simple ways to maintain anonymity. I also decided to present these in a booklet rather than have them sit in a library somewhere because I knew my participants would never walk into a huge library and ask to see their oral history. I needed to make sure it was truly accessible.”

Participants described a range of oral history projects they are interested in or already working on, including: telling the stories of black elders and sharing those within a family, working with young people in a classroom setting and allowing freedom of expression, imagining and understanding Hartford and Willimantic neighborhoods before urban renewal and displacement, destigmatizing abortion, and more. These projects from students, faculty, community partners, community organizers, teachers, and local artists encompass family storytelling, school work, academic research, grant-funded projects, and community organizing strategies. We were especially happy to see students and community partners in the Public Humanities Collaborative attend and discuss their projects. Our interests shaped the events of the day, forming the foundation of how and what Fanny taught us about oral histories. 

Rose Reyes, Willimantic Councilwoman ; Kaytlin Ernske ’20 and Sophia Lopez ’22, Public Humanities Collaborative students; Arvia Walker, Political Organizer; and Jasmin Agosto, Community Partner at Hartford History Center.

One of the first key points Fanny discussed was the importance of staying true to the “heart” of your oral history goals. She asked participants to write down their overarching social justice goal for their projects and share them with a partner. She encouraged us to always be asking–“What is my intent? Where is the heart of this for me?”–as we continued on through our projects, allowing the heart of our goals to lead the project. 

Throughout our time together, participants asked deep, insightful questions about how to collect and share stories ethically. How do you address the complexities of big, hard issues like immigration in a single interview? How do we minimize the possibility of re-traumatization during interviews? What does ethical storytelling and story collecting look like, especially when end products might look the same in spite of different collection processes? Fanny shared her expertise as someone who has waded through these kinds of questions throughout her work. In particular, she talked about how important an ethical process of co-creation is for oral history collection, especially in consent processes (see resources below). Fanny also gave participants the opportunity to thoughtfully engage with each other’s work through small group workshops of each other’s projects. All participants were willing to dig in and sift through the complexities of these projects and the difficult questions that come up in this work. 

Toward the end of the day, Fanny encouraged everyone to think about the future of their projects. She explained, 

“Oral history should not end at collecting and archiving. How do we engage a specific community and the general public with these stories? Why do these stories matter for generations to come? How can they be used to educate futures?”

When we are using oral history storytelling for the express purpose of creating social change, we must think beyond the archive. Stories kept in a box in a library or even in a public database can’t do the work of creating change. Changemaking requires that we build in plans for sharing stories within our current communities and the general public as well as how they can be shared as histories with future generations. 

To close the workshop, Fanny reminded us of the importance of what we had done together and who we are in community with each other. Toward that end, she recreated an exercise by Adrienne Maree Brown, New York social activist and educator and author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Through this exercise, we left grounded in our shared stakes in the movements for social change and the power of co-creation. 

Thank you to Fanny Julissa García for her time and thoughtfulness in creating and offering this workshop for us!


If you would like Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change to visit your group, organization, community center and/or class for a workshop on the use of oral history for social change, please send an email to fanny@oralhistoryforsocialchange.org. Please also check Groundswell’s website at www.oralhistoryforsocialchange.org for updates on upcoming online classes and resources!

For some basics on how to get started with oral history and engage participants ethically:

Oral History Association: Principles and Best Practices

Sample Informed Consent Form

Example Projects:

Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories 2018

Forced Trajectory Project, a multimedia project using oral history to document the longterm effect of police brutality on families and communities

Unfinished Sentences: A Collaboration to Preserve the Historical Memory of El Salvador’s Civil War 

 

 

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Community Learning

This semester a team of Community Action Gateway students Karolina Barrientos ’22, Olivia Louthen ’22, and Coleman McJessy ’22 partnered with Health Equity Solutions, an advocacy organization that promotes policies, programs, and practices that result in equitable health care access, delivery and outcomes to ensure every Connecticut resident can attain optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Healthy Equity Solutions does a combination of grassroots and grasstops organizing including advocating for statewide legislation related to health equity. This Spring, the students focused on reproductive healthcare access as a component of larger health inequities, especially in the way that disparities disproportionately impact Black mothers and babies. A reproductive health policy  that HES identified to support their mission was S.B. 1078 An Act Concerning Doula Coverage Under the Medicaid Program.

To simultaneously expand their knowledge on reproductive health and to support the organization’s advocacy efforts, students wrote a white paper about the bill…

Download (PDF, 143KB)

Created a one-pager highlighting the benefits of covering doula care– to be used for lobbying legislators…

Download (PDF, 103KB)

AND produced a trifold brochure for Health Equity Solutions to use when conducting workshops and engaging community members.

Throughout the semester, students were exposed to the various layers that come with insurance law, healthcare access, and the very specific issues related to reproductive healthcare. When reflecting on their project during their final presentations on campus, the students discussed some of the background readings and films they had watched to learn more about reproductive health in the United States and how disparities especially impact women of color living in low-income and/or historically medically underserved areas like Hartford. When talking with presentation guests, they were able to connect specific stories they had read about or heard about to the policy they were working on with their partner.

When it comes to protecting and expanding access to reproductive healthcare, advocacy organizations in Connecticut like Health Equity Solutions are setting examples for states around the country. Congratulations to the students for providing well-researched and effective tools to their community partner during a fast paced legislative session.


In the Community Action Gateway, first-year students learn how to create community change with community activists, neighborhood organizers, government leaders, non-profit directors, journalists, and social entrepreneurs in Hartford. If you have questions about the Gateway, contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu.

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Community Learning

In 2016, Trinity College adopted a new mission statement that emphasizes three words: Engage, Connect, and Transform. But exactly who engages with communities outside of Trinity’s gates, and are these participation rates representative of the college demographics at large? In late spring 2018, the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) was created to strengthen educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and students, staff, and faculty at Trinity College, and to evaluate campus-city relationships. This report focuses on faculty and student participation rates in CHER programs: primarily Community Learning courses, and secondly, co-curricular activities sponsored by the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, and Trinfo Cafe. Key findings include:

  • Faculty offered around 20-25 Community Learning courses, with total enrollments ranging around 280-440, each semester during academic years 2015-19.
  • 22 out of 32 (or 69%) of academic departments and programs in which students can major at Trinity College have offered Community Learning courses during academic years 2015-19.
  • About 18 percent of full-time faculty taught one or more Community Learning courses during academic years 2015-19. But participation varied by gender, with about 23 percent of female faculty versus 13 percent of male faculty, though this pattern fluctuated by faculty status.
  • About 62 percent of traditional undergraduates in the Class of 2018 completed at least 1 Community Learning course during a typical four-year period of study at Trinity. Furthermore, 25 percent completed 2 or more CL courses, and 11 percent completed 3 or more CL courses. But about 36 percent of traditional undergraduates did not enroll in any CL courses.
  • During any given academic year between 2015 and 2019, traditional undergraduates who enrolled in at least one Community Learning course ranged from 21 to 28 percent.
  • Female students participated in Community Learning at higher proportions (29 percent) than male students (21 percent), on average, during each academic year from 2015-2019.
  • Students of color enrolled in Community Learning courses in higher proportions (34 percent of Black students; 30 percent of Hispanic students; 27 percent of Asian students) than White students (23 percent), on average, during each academic year from 2015-2019.
  • Students with need-based financial aid enrolled in one or more Community Learning courses at a higher proportion (27 percent) than students without financial aid (24 percent), on average, during each academic year from 2015-2019.
  • First-generation students enrolled in one or more Community Learning courses at higher proportions (32 percent) than non-first- generation students (25 percent), on average, for each of the three years that Trinity has collected this data from 2017-2019.
  • About 25 percent of traditional undergraduates participated in co-curricular community engagement (specifically Community Service and Trinfo.Cafe) in 2017-18. When we combined participation in curricular programs (Community Learning courses) or co-curricular programs, about 43 percent of traditional undergraduates participated in at least one or more of these in 2017-18.

Since this report is limited to CHER programs, we invite other Trinity offices to share data with us to help gather a more comprehensive picture of community engagement.

See details in the full report below.

Download (PDF, 96KB)

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Community Learning

The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC), a component of Trinity’s Summer Research Program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, brings together students, faculty, and Hartford-area humanities partners to explore themes in the humanities and creatively engage both scholarly and public audiences. Through this program, students have the opportunity to engage with multiple methods and contexts for creating new knowledge in the humanities by participating in small teams that work on faculty scholarship, on partners’ public humanities projects, and meet regularly to learn about community collaboration and digital tools. From the large pool of applications, PHC selected sixteen students to work on eight faculty and eight public humanities projects with each student receiving a $3500 stipend as well as summer housing during this 10-week program. The Public Humanities Collaborative is coordinated by Megan Faver Hartline, Director of Community Learning at Trinity College

Hartford Organizations’ Public Humanities Projects:

Coltsville National Historical Park, “Coltsville Through the Years”

  • Community Partner: Andrew Long, Management Assistant
  • Trinity Students: Kaylen Jackson ‘21 and Yisbel Marrero ‘20

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center, “Urban Renewal in Willimantic, Connecticut

  • Community Partner: Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator
  • Trinity Students: Kaytlin Ernse ‘20 and Sophia Lopez ‘22

Connecticut Historical Society, “Transcribing and Digitizing Archival Materials of Joseph Johnson

  • Community Partner: Andrea Rapacz, Director of Exhibitions and Collections
  • Trinity Students: Carlson Given ‘20 and Emma Sternberg ‘21

Hartford History Center, “Voices of Migration / Voces de la Migracion

  • Community Partner: Jasmin Agosto, Education & Community Outreach Manager
  • Trinity Students: Stephanie Cerda-Ocampo ‘21 and Brenda Piedras ‘21

Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, “Female Trailblazers: Hartford Jewish Woman Who Made A Difference”

  • Community Partner: Estelle Kafer, Executive Director
  • Trinity Students: Tanuja Budraj and Fede Cedolini ‘22

TheaterWorks, “Community Engagement at TheaterWorks”

  • Community Partners: Taneisha Duggan, Producing Associate
  • Trinity Students: Manny Rodriguez ‘20 and Hendrick Xiong-Calmes ‘22

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, “Developing Context and Content for Afro-Cosmologies exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum and The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

  • Community Partner: Anne Butler Rice, Georgette Auerbach Koopman Director of Education at the Wadsworth, and Frank Mitchell, Executive Director of the Amistad Center
  • Trinity Students: Remi Tupper ‘20 and Kyre William-Smith ‘21

West Indian Social Club/West Indian Foundation, “Migrant Zero, Chain Migration, and Black Flight

  • Community Partner: Fiona Vernal, West Indian Foundation Board of Directors, and Beverly Redd, West Indian Social Club Leadership Team
  • Trinity Students: Esther Appiah ‘21 and Ali Kara ‘20
Trinity Faculty Research Projects:

Aidalí Aponte-Avilés and Christina Bleyer, “Voces de la Migración: Archiving and Sharing the U.S. Latinx Experience in Hartford

  • Trinity Students: Stephanie Cerda-Ocampo ‘21 and Brenda Piedras ‘21

Thomas Lefebvre, “Transatlantic Food Database

  • Trinity Students: Kaylen Jackson ‘21 and Yisbel Marrero ‘20

Alexander Manevitz, “The Rise and Fall of Seneca Village: Remaking Race and Space in Nineteenth-Century New York City

  • Trinity Students: Kaytlin Ernse ‘20 and Sophia Lopez ‘22

Nick Marino, “Podcasts as Oral History: LGBTQ Life in Hartford

  • Trinity Students: Manny Rodriguez ‘20 and Hendrick Xiong-Calmes ‘22

Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, “Food, Wine and Empire

  • Trinity Students: Tanuja Budraj and Fede Cedolini ‘22

Maurice Wade, “Building an Online Archive of Caribbean Anti-Colonial Thought

  • Trinity Students: Esther Appiah ‘21 and Ali Kara ‘20

Chloe Wheatley, “Renaissance Literature in the Watkinson

  • Trinity Students: Remi Tupper ‘20 and Kyre William-Smith ‘21

Hilary Wyss and Christopher Hager, “Hidden Literacies Symposium and Website

  • Trinity Student: Carlson Given ‘20 and Emma Sternberg ‘21

For more information on the Public Humanities Collaborative, including how you can propose a project in the future, contact Director Megan Hartline.

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Community Learning

On April 4th, the Community Action Gateway opened its classroom for a public workshop on “Trauma Informed Community Engagement,” led by Dr. Michelle L. Day. In her presentation, Day, who researches at the intersection of trauma-informed care and higher education (particularly writing pedagogy and community-engaged teaching and research), addressed key barriers and opportunities for implementing trauma-informed principles and practices in community spaces. Both because of the importance of this topic and that one of its central tenets is the importance of training everyone, Megan Faver Hartline, Director of Community Learning and Professor in the Gateway, chose to open up the class and invite anyone interested to attend.

Michelle began by asking participants why they were interested in learning more about connections between trauma-informed practice and community engagement. First to speak were some of the Community Action Gateway students and mentors who said that this information could help them be better partners in their current community projects, including: lobbying efforts to restore voting privileges to people on parole, researching sexual health education practices, and working with LGBTQ+ youth who are overrepresented in DCF care, unstable housing, and juvenile justice systems. Community partners who attended noted their work with survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence, the effects of poverty and racism, and more.

The driving question of the workshop was: “Why does trauma-informed care matter in community engagement?” Michelle, the students, and community partners in the room discussed how nearly everyone is a survivor of trauma, and some communities and individuals are disproportionately impacted. Michelle noted the importance of always assuming that survivors are present when planning and implementing community engagement work. We live in a world where: Adverse Childhood Experiences affect nearly two thirds of the population (CDC and Kaiser Parmanente); 20 people are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner every minute (CDC); and about 19% of men and 15% of women have experienced a natural disaster in the United States (SAMHSA). In community engagement work, including here at Trinity, we are so often working with people who have high levels of trauma on an individual and community level that we need to be using trauma-informed practices in our projects. Michelle helped us talked through ways that trauma-informed practices are crucial for ethical community engagement.

Michelle’s perspective is unique because, like many of us doing community engagement work, she does not have a clinical background but understands how important it is to acknowledge the pervasiveness and impact of trauma on individuals and communities. Much of the discussion was around ways to minimize retraumatizing practices and promote resilience, respect, connection and power-sharing in the communities we are living and working in.

Throughout the workshop and in conversation afterward, the perspectives of our community partners, many of whom use trauma-informed care in their daily work, brought so many different perspectives and insights on this topic that helped us all learn about new ways we can use these practices. We were thrilled to be joined by CHER Advisory Board member Linda Martinez, C.J. Boggs Bernier Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor of YWCA New Britain, Yadira Rivera from East Hartford CONNects, Laura O’Keefe of The Village for Families & Children, Shwetha Jayaraj who works with HPD Not Safe For Women, Joel Rivera from Hartford Working Cities Challenge, and Rebecca Lemanski of Middletown WORKS, and others.

Throughout the workshop, we talked about the parallels between trauma-informed care within community spaces and trauma-informed community engagement from higher education institutions, with many raising complex questions ranging from individual interactions to systemic problems.

Tiana Starks ‘21 (pictured to the left) asked, “What about the language we use? What words are you using when you’re out in the community and how to people want to be talked to/about?” For example, how do we use the words “victim” or “survivor” when talking about sexual violence? Thinking about how we as individuals can use language that promotes resiliency and lessens the possibility of retraumatization is important, both in community engagement settings and in our daily lives (as we remember how important it is to assume that survivors are always present!).

Community member Shwetha Jayaraj and Eleanor Faraguna ‘21 asked, “How do you educate institutions on trauma-informed teaching and engagement?” We talked about a range of institutions–Trinity College, Hartford Police Department, local social service organizations, the schools–  and discussed how you can find allies in these places and start working to create change that incorporates trauma-informed practices on and off campus.

Overall, the workshop offered all of us space to learn, discuss, and think through how trauma is a part of the work we do and how we can make sure to incorporate trauma-informed care into our everyday lives. Thank you to Dr. Michelle L. Day for her time and thoughtfulness in offering this workshop! Below you can find resources on Trauma-Informed Principles (slide 19), Mental Health First Aid, Active Listening, Self-Care Planning, and Structured Ethical Reflection (slide 24).

Download (PPTX, 2.93MB)

Interested in partnering on a community action project  with faculty and students at Trinity College? Or learning more about public events hosted by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research? Contact Megan Hartline, Director of Community Learning, to learn more.

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Community Learning

Alex Tomcho ’19 assists a client with tax returns at the VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo.Café. Photo by Nick Caito.

This semester, Visiting Lecturer in Political Science Serena Laws has been teaching “Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” and piloting a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at Trinfo.Café where students have been trained as IRS-certified tax preparers. Despite only being open a few hours twice a week, Professor Serena Laws says the VITA site at Trinfo.Café has already filed over 100 returns.  Serena Laws said,

The average return we’ve been giving is $1,400, and for families with kids the average return has been about $3,800. Our clients have an average yearly income of about $18,000, so this is a huge boon to their income for the year. – Serena Laws, Visiting Lecturer in Political Science, and VITA Site Coordinator

For the academic component of the course, students are learning about the history of tax credits, how it compares to other methods of delivering social benefits, and the tax code in general. Amanda Hausmann ‘21 said,

“I think learning about the credits and then actually getting to see in practice how they contribute to the refund that people are getting and hearing their reactions to it is a lot more valuable than just learning about the history of the credit itself. It’s giving us an understanding of how this really affects people.” – Amanda Hausmann ’21

The pilot tax clinic at Trinfo.Café is one of several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) locations in Hartford coordinated by the United Way and The Village for Families & Children. The program generally serves people who make less than $55,000 a year, people with disabilities, and offers tax preparation services to Spanish and other language speakers. To accommodate larger numbers of clients, the pilot program has expanded their hours. The last day to file taxes is Monday April 15th and you can schedule an appointment by dialing 2-1-1 or visiting www.211ct.org. The Trinity VITA Tax Clinic is located at Trinfo.Café, 1300 Broad Street, Hartford.

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Community Learning

New Course for Fall 2019
MATH/POLS 128: Mathematics and Redistricting
Professor: Kyle Evans on Tu/Th 2:55-4:10pm

Gerrymandering examples from the Wash Post

Are you interested in why our legislative district maps are shaped the way they are?
The shapes continue to be influenced by mathematics and policy and will be back in the limelight following the 2020 U.S. Census and the decennial cycle of redistricting.
This course will investigate the ways in which people are grouped into districts and the impact the shapes and districts have on our elections, elected officials, and representation. Topics will include the mathematics of election forecasting, the U.S. Census, data analysis, redistricting laws and policy, and the geometric analysis of maps. Cross-listed with Political Science, and cross-referenced with Public Policy & Law and Community Learning.

This is also a Community Learning class and students will have the opportunity to learn from and interact with Connecticut legislators and policy makers who have produced and experienced new maps through redistricting cycles in Connecticut.

Note: This course is permission-only.
Interested students: To apply for the class, complete the survey by clicking this link http://bit.ly/MathPols128

The deadline to submit the survey is Friday, April 5th by 12 noon.
If you are selected for the class, a PIN will be emailed to you by the end of Sunday, April 7th.

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Community Learning
Please join us for an open class with the Community Action Gateway “Building Knowledge for Social Change.” We invite community partners and members of the public to join us for a special presentation by Michelle L. Day, Doctoral Candidate, Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. Fellow, Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research, University of Louisville.
 
Michelle Day will discuss how trauma-informed approaches are crucial for ethical community engagement, considering the statistically pervasive presence of trauma (especially at sites popular for engagement projects). She will address key barriers and opportunities for implementing trauma-informed principles and practices in community spaces, leaving participants with concrete suggestions and resources adapted from social work literature.
 
This event is free and open to the public. Thursday April 4th 3-4:15PM, 1st Floor, Center for Hartford Engagement and Research, 70 Vernon Street, Hartford, CT. Street parking for guests is available on Vernon Street.
RSVP: https://goo.gl/forms/k3NcIlkBYyQAGwjE2
 
This event is sponsored by the Office of Community Learning.
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Community Learning

The 2019 Conference on the Teaching of Writing will take place at the University of Connecticut’s Hartford campus on Friday, April 5, 2019.

This year’s conference will feature a special afternoon workshop event organized by Megan Faver Hartline, Director of Community Learning, Center for Hartford Engagement and Research at Trinity College:

WRITING WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS

This workshop is conducted by our conference co-sponsors: Trinity College (Hartford, CT)  Outreach & Engagement. This FREE 2.5 hour afternoon workshop brings together faculty, students, and community partners to discuss strategies for projects that use writing to contribute to social change in your local community. Learn about pedagogical and organizational strategies to create reciprocal partnerships that engage students in active learning beyond the classroom and help community organizations reach their goals. This workshop is presented by Trinity College Community Learning and is open to faculty, staff, and community partners who are interested in strengthening their approach to writing across university/community partnerships.

For more information, see the UCONN English Department’s First-Year Writing page here.

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Community Learning
This semester, the Community Learning Research Fellows had the opportunity to collaborate with community partners and faculty sponsors on community-based research projects. During the semester, fellows engaged in Community-Based Research, which emphasizes problem solving and communications skills beyond the mold of traditional academic research. This type of research helps students understand how to engage with the needs of a community, build partnerships with people directly involved, and transform their space to enact social change.
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Community Learning

In the Community Action Gateway, first-year students learn how to create social change with Hartford organizations, organizers, non-profit directors, and social entrepreneurs in Hartford. In Fall 2018, Community Action Gateway students created one-minute videos with their community partners that the organizations can use to promote their work.


Make the Road Connecticut is an “organization that builds membership with low-income and working class Latinos living in Bridgeport and Hartford. It has become a powerful voice on immigrant rights, worker rights, public schools, LGBTQ justice, and more.” Wendy Salto ’22, Rakan AlZhaga ’22, and Olivia Louthen ’22 worked with Make the Road’s committee “Madres Guerreras” whose mission is to learn and engage with the school system, their families, and the committee to give their children the best possible education. Mirka Dominguez of Make the Road CT told students:

“It’s those small steps that are what is sustainable. These issues we are fighting have been around for hundreds of years. They are systemic. Huge movements are not sustainable and allies get tired really quickly. It’s the baby steps that make the change.” – Mirka Dominguez, Make the Road CT Community Organizer


Christian Activities Council is an organization developing leaders who act collectively for social justice in Greater Hartford. Their work includes organizing clergy to build multi-faith, multi-issue power organization in Metro-Hartford as well as neighborhood organizing on particular issues. Leah Swope ’22, Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ’22, and Renita Washington ’22 learned about all facets of their organizing, including the No More Slumlords campaign where tenants in affordable housing complexes in the North End have demanded better living conditions.  Organizer and Pastor AJ Johnson told students,

“CAC is doing some amazing, life-changing work. We listen to the issues in the community and find out if they are actionable, winnable, and accountable. We are calling on the churches in any community to be the dog that is ready to fight for the people in the community.”


Billings Forge Community Works is an organization that operates two cafes in Hartford and offers job training to residents who have faces challenges in accessing employment. Keane Fajardo ’22, Coleman McJessy ’22, and Djamilatou Camara ’22 learned about the Culinary Job training program which includes on the job training in culinary skills, Servsafe training and certification, and a job counselor to work on resume development, mock interviews, and the job search.

When you eat at the Kitchen, you are supporting more than just a local business. You are supporting a mission: making lives better through food.


reSET Social Enterprise Trust is a non-profit organization advancing the social enterprise sector. They are a go-to place for impact entrepreneurs offering impact accelerator programs, co-working space and community forums, mentor networking, and more. Kien Le ’22, Sophia Lopez ’22, and Dasha Maliauskaya support entrepreneurs in creating market-based solutions to community challenges.

These organizations can show people that they can do something if they have the resources to make change. They are giving people the chance to fight for something. You don’t need to have a particular background in something if you can find the resources, find the “how” and empower people.” -Dasha Maliauskaya ’22


The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is working to ensure that all people have equal access to housing opportunities in Connecticut, free from discrimination. India Rhodes ’22, Karolina Barrientos ’22, and Richard Perry III ’22 learned about the intersection of poverty and housing discrimination, foreclosure prevention, anti-predatory lending, and fair lending efforts in the organization’s work.

“We are the only agency  in the state that protects housing civil rights. At the Connecticut Fair Housing Center we want people to know that we are here, and we’re here to protect their rights.” -James Dresser, Fair Housing Specialist


Thank you to Professor Serena Laws, Associate Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline, and Faculty Director of Community Learning Jack Dougherty. To learn more about Community Learning, click here.

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Action Lab, CHER News, Community Learning, Community Service, Hartford News, News, Newsletters, OCR News, Trinfo News, Trinfo.Café, Uncategorized, Urban Ed

Last week, Professor Serena Laws’ “Envisioning Social Change” students in the first semester of the Community Action Gateway shared their video projects with Hartford community partners. In the Community Action Gateway, students have the opportunity to work on community-based research or social change projects with Hartford-area community activists, neighborhood organizers, government leaders, non-profit leaders, journalists, and social entrepreneurs. This semester, students partnered with Billings Forge Community Works, Christian Activities Council, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Make the Road Connecticut, and ReSet Social Enterprise Trust.

At the Shareback dinner, held at the Liberal Arts Action Lab downtown,  students to debuted their 1-minute videos and Professors Serena Laws and Jack Dougherty facilitated the conversation between last year’s gateway students, current students, and community partners to discuss social change in Hartford. Check out the video below to see a recap of the discussion.

Students will soon be working on proposals for Spring 2019 social change projects. Thank you to Professor Serena Laws, Associate Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline, and Faculty Director of Community Learning Jack Dougherty for making these opportunities available to first year students.

Click here learn more about the Community Action Gateway.

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Action Lab, CHER News, Community Learning, Community Service, Hartford News, News, Newsletters, OCR News, Trinfo News, Trinfo.Café, Uncategorized, Urban Ed

Last week, Brett Davidson from the Connecticut Bail Fund came to speak at Common Hour with the Trinity Young Democratic Socialists and Human Rights Department. The Connecticut Bail Fund is a grassroots organization whose mission is to abolish mass criminalization, incarceration, and deportation. They pay bail for people who are incarcerated due to poverty, and then once they are free, work alongside them and their families to advocate for their human rights. Brett said since 2016, they have freed over 250 people.

Most states, including Connecticut, have a cash bail system. This means that after an arrest, a person’s ability to leave jail before their trial is dependent on their ability to pay. Brett said in legal theory, bail is supposed to be imposed on someone who is a flight risk— to ensure that they return to court to face their charges. In reality, however, bail has become wealth-based in incarceration. According to the ACLU, over 70% of people in jail at any given time in the U.S. have not been convicted of a crime.

When a judge sets that kind of bail for someone who, for example, doesn’t have a job, they know that person isn’t getting out.” 

One student asked about the role of public defenders and the ways that people are treated when they cannot afford representation. Brett said,

In the communities where we work the public defenders are known as public pretenders. They are so overloaded with cases. A lot of public defenders don’t want us to bail our their clients because it’s easier to process the cases with the clients incarcerated. There’s also this mistaken notion that people get services when they’re in jail, such as drug rehabilitation. However, in my experience it takes at least 5-6 months to access any services.”

Students asked, “What’s the relationship between bail and the larger criminal injustice system? What could bail reform look like in Connecticut?” Brett said, “Around the country there’s a growing movement to end money bail. Right now we decide who gets locked up vs who gets to fight their cases from the outside is based on who has money. The short answer is: it’s complicated. A lot of people around the country are now looking to Risk Assessment as a way to reform, however these assessments use really dangerous proxies for race, such as what magazines someone subscribes to, for example.

Instead, the bail fund focuses on a combination of meeting people’s immediate needs (bailing them out and using a harm reduction model in their work) as well as working on the abolition of incarceration altogether. To end the talk, Brett encouraged to group that instead of thinking about the notion of dangerousness or “violent criminals” the real questions they could be asking are, “When violence happens? What is the response? What are ways that we can look at restorative justice and transformative justice?”


To learn more about the Connecticut Bail Fund, visit http://www.ctbailfund.org. Thank you to the Human Rights Department, Trinity Young Democratic Socialists of America, and the Connecticut Bail Fund.

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Call for Proposals 2018-19
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) – Trinity College
Academic Collaboration Grants

Background
Academic collaboration between Trinity College and HMTCA has grown since the formal partnership agreement between the two organizations in 2011. The partnership includes two summer academies at Trinity for HMTCA 9th and 10th grade students, academic collaboration in specific academic departments, HMTCA students taking introductory Trinity classes, attendance at Trinity lectures and programs, and a number of other academic and service projects. As of summer 2018, the HMTCA-Trinity College partnership is supported by Urban Educational Initiatives in the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity. Learn more about this partnership here.

Objective
Over the years, there has been increased interest for supporting innovative projects to benefit students at both HMTCA and Trinity College. Some of these projects may be one-time projects (designed for a short period) and others may be pilot programs (to test an idea for a potentially longer period). As these efforts expand, it is important to support new projects and share the accomplishments of academic collaboration between the two institutions.
This call for proposals supports one-time or pilot projects that strengthen the HMTCA-Trinity College partnership. Resources from the Urban Educational Initiatives and Community Learning budgets may fund up to two projects at $1,000 each during the remainder of the 2018-19 academic year. All proposals must include and benefit both HMTCA and Trinity students. Preference will be given to projects that also include both HMTCA and Trinity faculty/staff, and include multicultural and/or multilingual education.

Guidelines
Short proposals (<1000 words) to support expenses for academic collaborations between HMTCA and Trinity College should be submitted by December 14, 2018. Please refer questions and submit completed proposals to Robert Cotto, Director of Urban Education Initiatives, 860 297-4100. Submit proposals via e-mail to robert.cotto@trincoll.edu

Proposals should include the following information:

  • Names and contact information for Trinity and HMTCA faculty and/or staff collaborators
  • Specific time period of the academic collaboration (such as a date, month, or semester in 2018-19)
  • Course titles and student enrollments (or if the collaboration is not classroom-based, carefully describe the participants and setting)
  • Description of academic collaboration, including goals, methods, anticipated challenges, and strategies to overcome them
  • Description of documentation and/or sharing of accomplishments
  • Benefits: How does this project benefit both Trinity and HMTCA students? Also, does it include multicultural and/or multilingual benefits for students? How does this project enrich the curriculum?
  • Budget: We welcome proposals with specific budgets, using any of these categories:
    1) Planning (provide detail)
    2) Materials (art supplies, lab materials, books not otherwise covered by existing institutional budgets)
    3) Documentation (for example, costs to document the presentation of a collaborative project)
    4) Additional compensation (with approval by direct supervisor, up to $750 may be used for faculty or staff additional compensation)
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Nat Bush ’19 is the co-president of the Green Campus Club at Trinity College, part of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement. We asked Nat to be a guest blogger and write about their experience attending the Students for Zero Waste Conference at the University of Pennsylvania. Check out Nat’s guest blog below.


Last weekend, myself and other student representatives from the Green Campus club attended the Students for Zero Waste conference at the University of Pennsylvania. This conference, provided by PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network) is an annual two-day conference hosted at a different campus each year on the East Coast.

They provide students with dozens of workshops that teach them how to incorporate a zero waste lifestyle into their personal, school, and professional life. In addition, the conference itself is zero waste, meaning that no trash is produced for the duration of the weekend. Students are encouraged to bring their own silverware, Tupperware, dish cloth, and other products that normally would be tossed out.

This conference was absolutely transformative for me. I went to the conference 2 years ago as well, when it was at University of New Hampshire, but at the time I wasn’t aware enough of how I could implement zero waste efforts into the Trinity campus community. Now that I’ve had 3 years of experience with Green Campus, EROS, and my other involvements at Trinity, I’ve been able to take the lessons provided at the conference and compare them with how I’ve run things on campus. For example, one workshop taught me how to prevent burnout and inspire club members to maintain their involvement in the club. It is easy to get caught up in your own responsibilities as a president or other leading position in a club, and therefore get burnt out and lose interest in continuing your involvement. In order to fix this, the workshop taught us it’s necessary to include each and every club member, to tell them how they matter to you, why you appreciate having them in the club, and providing them with meaningful work that will reassure them that their membership matters.

Another workshop was run by three costume designers who make their clothing from discarded fabrics. In a capitalist society we are accustomed to throwing away things we no longer want, and we don’t see where our waste goes. We put it into a trash can and often don’t see the other side, where the waste gets incinerated or sent to a landfill. Clothes that just have a hole or two in them can still be worn for many years, and even if they’re ripped to the point of being unwearable, it’s possible to repurpose them. One woman leading the workshop gave an example of a beautiful dress she bought in the 1970s that she then turned into a skirt. The fashion industry is incredibly wasteful, so there are plenty of opportunities for repurposing the fabric they use into new and unique designs.

I highly encourage that students at Trinity continue to attend this conference. Even if it’s just a few representatives, they can document what they learned and bring it back to their clubs on campus to make Trinity a more sustainable and active community.


Green Campus is committed to fostering respect for the environment and implementing sustainable practices on Trinity’s campus and throughout the Hartford community. Be sure to follow Green Campus on their new Instagram account @tcgreencampus.

Special thanks to Nat Bush ’19 and other Green Campus student reps!

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With over 20 proposals submitted by Hartford community partners, the Liberal Arts Action Lab has formed 4 research teams for Spring 2019. These project teams will focus on a diverse set of issues facing Hartford from developing culinary job training to expanding park and trail access. All students will meet together in the Action Research Methods course on Monday afternoons and also will participate in one of the four Hartford research project teams below:

Culinary Careers Project

Food service is one of the few options open to people with barriers to employment, especially in Hartford. Many people of color and women, however, are mired in entry-level positions without advancing due to lack of training and often-unconscious racism and sexism in the culinary sector. In this project, students will conduct research to improve training programs for entry-level food service workers to move into middle-income managerial jobs. They will review other national training models, participate in phone interviews with programs, identify any best practice reports available, and review and rank conferences for relevance.

Day and time: Tuesday afternoons, 1:30-4:10 pm

Community Partner: Cary Wheaton, Billings Forge Community Works

Faculty Fellow: India Weaver, Capital Community College

Student Success Project

West Indians comprise the largest foreign-born population in Connecticut at precisely the same time that budgets for “new arrivals” programs aimed at easing their transition into the K-12 education systems have been slashed. In this project, students will gather data from parents, students, and teachers in Hartford area schools to answer the question: how do local area schools integrate West Indian children and their parents into the education system when English language learning and programs aimed at cultural competency often miss the nuances of the needs of English-speaking migrants, their children who emigrate with them, as well as their first-generation children?

Day and time: Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9:10 pm

Community Partner: West Indian Foundation (Desmond Collins, President; Violette Haldane, VP of Programming; and Dr. Fiona Vernal, board member), West Indian Foundation (founded 1978)

Faculty Fellow: Cleo Rolle, Capital Community College

Latinx Theater Project

Upwards of 45 percent of the population in Hartford identifies as Hispanic or Latinx. After surveying their audience, Hartford Stage identified a need for both Spanish-language theater and Spanish-language published materials which accompany their shows. Students in this project will collect qualitative and quantitative data from Hartford’s Latinx arts community to improve and expand Hartford Stage’s partnerships and programming.

Day and time: Wednesday afternoons, 1:15-3:55 pm

Community Partner: Rachel Alderman and Theresa MacNaughton, Hartford Stage

Faculty Fellow: Diana Aldrete, Trinity College

Riverside Recapture Project

Riverfront Recapture is seeking to expand access to the Connecticut River to include neighborhoods in the North End of Hartford. This expansion will allow for an increase in environmentally-friendly transportation in the city and access to other green space in the region, and the organization is planning on adding amenities to existing trail systems that will remove barriers to access. In this project, students will engage residents in the planning processes, provide an opportunity for their voices to be heard, and identify barriers, needs, and interests, in order to create a park and trail system that will be fully utilized and valued as a community asset.

Day and time: Thursday afternoons, 1:30-4:10 pm

Community Partner: Martha Conneely, Riverfront Recapture

Faculty Fellow: Stefanie Chambers, Trinity College

Contact Action Lab Director Megan Brown for questions or to learn how to apply for the next round of Action Lab projects.

[Photo by Nick Caito, Trinity College]

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Professors Jack Dougherty (Educational Studies) and Kyle Evans (Mathematics) are teaming up to redesign Educ 350: Teaching and Learning, to be offered on Fridays 1:15-3:55pm in Spring 2019. The course will delve into topics such as curriculum standards, assessment, and equity, with a special focus on science and mathematics education. For the Community Learning  component, pairs of students will design and teach two inquiry-based lessons in Hartford public elementary or middle schools during our class time, and create web portfolios that combine writing and video of their teaching and student learning. See past examples of Trinity student teaching portfolios on the web by Elaina Rollins ’16, Christina Raiti ’16, and Emily Meehan ’16.

Prerequisite is Educ 200: Analyzing Schools, or permission of either instructor. To request permission, email a one-paragraph statement of interest to either Prof. Jack Dougherty or Kyle Evans, or speak with them during office hours.

Click here to see a listing of more Spring 2019 Community Learning Courses.

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Hartford community partners in a focus group with Megan Hartline and Karolina Kwiecinska at Trinity College in August 2018.

In late summer 2018, the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) invited Hartford-area community partners who engaged with Trinity students to share their feedback in focus group sessions. CHER is responsible for regularly evaluating community engagement between Trinity and Hartford, so that all parties better understand the scope and quality of our work together, so that we may continue to improve. Now that we have reviewed notes from these very insightful conversations, this report outlines six of our key findings about these partnerships, as told from the perspective of twenty community organizations.

This is the second year that Megan Faver Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning, has led these focus groups. (See her first report from summer 2017 [link].) We invited about 50 Hartford-area community partners, most of them affiliated with non-profit organizations and neighborhood groups that collaborated during the prior academic year with Trinity students through various CHER programs: Community Learning, Community Service & Civic Engagement, Liberal Arts Action Lab, and Trinfo.Cafe. We were pleased that 21 partners (who represented 20 different organizations) generously made time to participate in hour-long focus groups, which took place on six different dates in August and September 2018. Two participants attended because they read about the focus groups in a CHER public announcement. During these sessions, we asked participants to describe their interactions with Trinity students; to review the costs, benefits, and development of these relationships; and to evaluate their overall impact on Hartford. (See our focus group questions in the appendix.) While the vast majority of the 21 participants represented organizations located in Hartford, only about half of these people reside inside the city. As a result, the feedback described below is not necessarily representative of all of Trinity’s community partners, because it is a self-selected sample of people who agreed to attend a one-hour focus group. Furthermore, our study of community partners does not attempt to represent the views of Hartford neighborhood residents at large. But until Trinity conducts future assessments, these focus groups offer the richest data currently available on the quality of our engagements, as viewed from the perspective of Hartford community partners.

  1. Range of Partnerships: We began each session with a short writing exercise that asked participants to list the ways that their organizations interacted with Trinity students during the prior school year. After listening to participants share their lists, we sorted them into our three recommended categories. Of the 20 different organizations represented, they primarily interacted with Trinity students in these ways:
  • Service Hours: 3 described how students tutor youth or volunteer at programs or events
  • Information Products: 5 stated how students created products like videos, data visualizations, and curriculum units
  • Research Studies: 10 identified how students conducted oral histories, or collected and analyzed data for studies

Note that the numbers above should not be interpreted as percentages of overall student engagement, because a service project may include 25 students while a research study may involve only 2. Furthermore, the focus group participants were not a carefully-designed representative sample, and these categories are not mutually exclusive.

Participants also provided new examples that forced us to rethink and expand our categories above. One explained how they interacted with Trinity students primarily through Artistic Collaboration, and another suggested adding this category: Guest Speaker in Class. Most impressive was the wide range — and unexpected cases — of community partner engagements with students. These focus groups taught us that no single Trinity employee had knowledge of all of our partnerships and the various ways that students interact with Hartford organizations. This finding provided additional motivation for the CHER team to create a collaborative database of our community engagements, to help us identify and work more closely with all of our partners.

2. Benefits to Partners:

When community partners agree to have Trinity students work with their organizations, this so-called “free” labor may require a significant investment of their time, so we asked them to evaluate the costs and benefits. All partners stated that student projects were useful to their organizations. “It’s a luxury for us to have folks who focus in on one specific project,” was a common theme voiced by community partners at small organizations with limited resources. In addition, about 75 percent reported that students completed work that their organizations would not have been able to do on their own. “The work that Trinity students have done for us would not be obtainable” without them, one partner stated, while another emphasized that their work without Trinity students would “not be as high quality.” Some partners attributed the high quality of Trinity student work to the faculty or staff oversight in the process, or noted that they would be hesitant to work with students without oversight. “When expectations are laid out for them, students are much more engaged,” one observed. Furthermore, even when counting the other 25 percent of organizations that would have done the work on their own, Trinity student involvement delivered value by offering different perspectives. “I appreciated the fresh approach by a younger set of eyes,” stated a humanities partner who worked with historical materials that were already very familiar to her. Others welcomed Trinity students for building public awareness of their organization’s work by “feeding it out” to younger generations on social media.

3. Relationships Drive Partnerships: When we asked participants how they began their partnerships with Trinity, about two-thirds pointed to their existing relationships with Trinity staff and faculty, and often named specific individuals as connectors. The other third were motivated by their desire to build new relationships with Trinity College at large, or noted how Trinity programs fulfilled one of their organization’s needs. This finding reminds us of the importance of establishing, sustaining, and expanding individual relationships with Hartford partners, which is vital to the work of CHER and the continued health of campus-community partnerships.

4. The Power of Networking Partners: One advantage of focus groups, rather than individual surveys or interviews, is that Hartford community partners frequently met one another for the first time. This happened far more often than we expected, given that people often refer to Hartford as a small city where everyone supposedly knows one another. Instead, community partners often engaged in conversations before, during, or after our focus groups to learn more about each other’s work, discuss potential collaborations, and exchange business cards. Moreover, when one partners described a particularly enriching partnership with Trinity, other partners often wanted to know more. One newer partner remarked, “I’m extremely curious about all of these other partnerships” described by other groups at the table, and another partner wondered “how to do that” with their own organization. Overall, this finding reinforces why CHER needs to improve campus-community partnership storytelling in our blog, social media, and monthly newsletter, to help other Hartford organizations imagine possibilities of collaborating with Trinity. Furthermore, CHER can play a more dynamic role in the city by regularly hosting focus groups or other events that bring together community partners to meet and brainstorm with us and other Hartford organizations.

5. Improve our Two-Way Relationships: Although we did not directly ask participants about campus-community relationships, this theme emerged at several focus groups, and views were mixed. On one hand, many praised the numerous Trinity programs that are designed to connect outward to the city. On the other hand, some believed that Hartford residents do not feel “invited” to come onto Trinity’s campus, or attend events, or use campus space, particularly in comparison to publicly-funded colleges and universities in the city. “Are we welcome here?” asked one focus group participant, who also is a Hartford resident and person of color. Even partners who feel somewhat comfortable at Trinity expressed confusion over how to find information about public events or answers to questions about requesting to use campus space. One positive example that actively makes Hartford residents feel welcome at Trinity is the International Hip Hop Festival, which several participants raised. Overall, these focus groups highlighted concerns about unbalanced campus-community relationships. Although Trinity sponsors multiple programs to engage students with Hartford, some city residents — notably some of our valued community partners on educational projects — do not always feel welcome on Trinity’s campus.

6. Unclear Impact on Hartford: Near the end of each focus group, we asked community partners to answer the big question: given their organization’s partnership with Trinity, and other Trinity partnerships that they were aware of, have these relationships made any difference in Hartford? The breadth of this question prompted long pauses and mixed responses, with different types of reasoning.

 

On one hand, partners who leaned “no” tended to emphasize higher expectations for Trinity as an “anchor institution” in the city. “I would expect to have more partnerships, not just with students, but also faculty. Their reach into really shaping Hartford isn’t there yet,” observed one partner. Another pointed to publicly-funded higher education institutions in the city that “are integrated and invested in partnerships all over the place. . . [while] Trinity literally has a fence. . . I see it making a difference with individual students, who are already inclined to working with the city. [Our Trinity students] feel frustrated about isolation and lack of integration.”

 

On the other hand, some partners who leaned “yes” argued that Trinity’s long-term institutional investment in the Hartford, from former President Evan Dobelle’s era to the present, is making a difference. Some answered affirmatively by pointing to the many individual relationships that formed through campus-community partnerships, particularly for Hartford youth in mentoring programs. College students “have incredible potential to influence young people, high-school age people. With a little bit of help, there could be thousands of college mentors in Hartford,” one partner observed. Still others mentioned very specific projects (such as an information product that Trinity students created to help domestic abuse victims hide their location on smartphones) as evidence that our work has an impact “on a micro level.” One community partner summed up their response to the question about whether we are making a difference in Hartford this way: “On an individual level, yes. As a whole, do I think we are moving the needle together? Probably not. Do I think we could? Yes. This year? Probably not.”

 

In conclusion, the CHER mission statement is “to strengthen educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and students, staff, and faculty at Trinity College, and evaluate campus-city relationships.” To achieve this goal, we need to regularly conduct assessments about the quality of our relationships — most notably with our Hartford community partners — and to publicly report our findings to help all of us improve our work together. This report is one step in a continuing effort to enhance assessment and communication. Another example of assessment work-in-progress is the online survey and follow-up focus groups with educators, students, and alumni involved in the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) and Trinity College partnership, conducted by Robert Cotto, Director of Urban Educational Initiatives. The Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) plans to continue gathering feedback from more Hartford community partners and neighborhood residents in the future, to shape our future efforts.

 

If you are a Hartford community partner or Hartford resident who interacts with Trinity College students, and wish to be invited to similar focus group sessions in the future, contact Erica Crowley, Communications and Data Assistant for the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research.

 

Thank you to Erica Crowley and Karolina Kwiecinska for their contributions to this report by taking notes at many of these meetings.

 

Appendix: Community Partner Focus Group Discussion Guide, Trinity College CHER

Thanks for participating. The purpose of this focus group is to better understand relationships between Trinity College and Hartford-area community partners. We will ask you some questions, which will require about a half-hour of your time. People in the room will hear your answers, and we will write notes about your responses. But our final report will NOT identify you or your organization by name. Your participation in this project is completely voluntary, and you are free to stop or withdraw at any time.

1) Create a List

Our goal is to make concrete examples more visible to everyone in the focus group. Feel free to add notes to this page during our discussion. We will collect your sheet at the end.

– Name of your organization:

– List ways that Trinity students interacted with your organization over the past school year.

2) Looking at what you wrote above, what type of work did students do for your organization?

– Did students provide hours of service?

– Did students provide information or research products?

3) In your own words, tell us more about how Trinity students interacted with your organization and the service/information/research they provided.

4) Tell us about the conversations with people at Trinity and your organization that led to this arrangement, and why you agreed to participate.

5) Did the Trinity students provide service/information/research that your organization would not have had otherwise?

6) Did the Trinity student service/information/research require additional supervision from your organization? If yes, was it worth the investment of your supervisory time?

7) Thinking about your organization’s partnership with Trinity, and other Trinity partnerships you’re aware of, have these relationships made any difference in Hartford?

8) What are your organization’s plans for the next year?

9) Would you like to continue partnering with Trinity in the future? Why or why not?

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Joe Barber is the Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement

Let’s start with: where are you from where did you grow up?

I grew up in Winsted, Connecticut (fun fact: that’s the hometown of Ralph Nader).  I received a B.A. in Sociology in 1992 (summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and an MPA in 1994—both from the University of Connecticut. I have lived in Hartford since 1996 and I’ve been a homeowner in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood since 1999. Currently, I’m on the boards of the Frog Hollow NRZ committee, Night Fall and the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence. I work on Asking for a Friend with Chion Wolf—a live advice show at Sea Tea Comedy Theater—and play alto saxophone in the Hartford Hot Several Brass Band.


Tell us about yourself and your work at Trinity College. What does a day in the life look like?

I’ve been with the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement for 22 years–since October of 1996—and been director for about 16 years. I usually start my day at Peter B’s for some coffee and check in on my first round of emails for the day.  Then I go to my office and do paperwork, pay bills, take and make calls, and attend to any of the other non-ending administrative details that go into keeping an office going.  Throughout the day students come and go, and a good portion of the time is spent meeting and working with students on the various projects and events of the Office.


You’ve been at Trinity for a long time. What are you proudest of in your work?

What has been most heartening is to look over the Office’s body of work and see a range of projects that are diverse in content as well as longevity. We have over 20 ongoing programs and partnerships as well as about the same number of annual projects. There are projects like Halloween on Vernon Street and our Thanksgiving Drive that have been around for over20 years, as well as new partnerships and programs like Jumpstart and Trinity Homelessness Project that started just last year.


In addition, we’ve made a concerted effort throughout my time here to broaden the idea of what is community service (hence the full name of the office being community service and civic engagement). Community service should be thought of as service to democracy that involves continually enlarging the circle of people involved and engaged in society. So, yes, it’s about tutoring and mentoring, food pantries, food drives and toy drives, cleaning parks, and building houses, but it’s also about human rights, the environment, art, social entrepreneurship, community building, and dialogue about social issues and community. This approach has allowed the Office to have great diversity in the work we are able to do in Hartford and how we promote Hartford as our home, as well as providing many opportunities that emphasize the importance of being an involved and active citizen in a democratic society.


What are some projects your office has done people should know about?

One of them is the Bantam Bus Pass (originally the U-Pass) which we started (in partnership with CT Transit) in the Fall of 1999. It provides all students free transportation all local CT Transit and the CT Fastrak buses. It’s important because it gets people out of their cars and out using public transportation. It’s good for the environment and it allows students to get to know Hartford in a more intimate way.

Some of the other projects that we are known for (or at least should be) are Do It Day, Halloween on Vernon Street, Trinity Film Festival, our Thanksgiving drive, Sponsor-a-Snowman holiday gift drive for Interval House, Backpack Nutrition Program, sustainability projects (recycling, composting, etc.), Place of Grace Food Pantry, the Coop thrift shop and the Jones-Zimmerman Academic Mentoring Program at HMTCA.. We also have long-standing officially recognized campus chapters of Amnesty International, Best Buddies, ConnPIRG, Habitat for Humanity, and Lions Club.


What are some of your favorite memories at Trinity?

That’s a tough one for me. I’ve been doing this for a long time and there really are so many.  But honestly some of my favorite memories are right here around this table in Mather basement when I’ve been working with students on different projects or just talking about life. It really is this space where the ideas come to be. It really is a co-working environment; I can’t work without them and they can’t work without me.  And when we see a project through to successful completion, those are the really nice moments.


What else should people know about you?

I usually run every day at lunchtime, and I am the team liaison/advisor for Trinity’s men’s and women’s cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams.

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Last week, the Department of Public Policy and Law, the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, the Trinity Homelessness Project, and the Trinity Young Democratic Socialists organized a Common Hour event, “Addressing Homelessness and Affordable Housing in Connecticut.” In the video below, Brooke Williams ’18 of Trinity Young Democratic Socialists and Kyle Fields ’20 of the Trinity Homelessness Project explain their plans for organizing the event.

The guest speaker for the program was Erin Boggs, the Executive Director of Open Communities Alliance, a Connecticut-based civil rights organization advocating for access to opportunity. Erin comes from a family of civil rights activists, including her father who became a civil rights lawyer, and attended public schools in D.C. with her three siblings which she says has a huge influence on her worldview and impacts the work she does today.

This common hour event was almost completely full, and rightfully so; Connecticut is one of the most segregated states in the country when it comes to housing. Erin said,

In terms of segregation, Connecticut is one of the most segregated state in the country. We are right on par with Chicago and Detroit. This comes out of a number of factors including what we’ve done with zoning laws, where we’re putting subsidized housing, where we’re allowing housing authorities to operate, disinvestment from communities that are disproportionately communities of color, and our entire history of explicitly racist housing policies.

Drawing on CHER director and Professor Jack Dougherty’s work in “On the Line” and Richard Rothstein’s “Color of Law” Erin explained how many of the issues we are seeing today, including the opportunity gap and affordable housing that OCA studies, are a result of a long history of state sponsored segregation.

To give some background from Richard Rothstein’s work, there were two main aspects that interacted: the first was the rise of public housing and the second was federally backed housing developments for white families. Public housing began during the New Deal under the Roosevelt Administration to provide housing primarily to low and middle income families who had lost their homes during the Great Depression, and the Administration included separate public housing for African American families. These patterns of segregated public housing went on through World War II, and in 1949 President Truman proposed a massive expansion of the public housing program, again primarily for white families, to accommodate the shortage of housing largely for veterans. After lengthy political back and forth between Republicans and liberals of the Democratic party regarding integration or segregation, the bill passed and hugely expanded public housing, still segregated.

However, after a few years, the public housing for white families was suddenly vacant and the public housing for African American families was still full and with a waiting list. Erin explained how Jack Dougherty’s work in “On the Line” wanted to understand these changes that had taken place in the Hartford area:

So Jack and others mapped the racial makeup change in the Hartford area from 1950 to 2010. With that shift he’s also done a map of home values over time, you can see the more expensive homes were originally in Hartford, and then with the wealth flight and White flight the high value homes were outside of Hartford.

In the video above, see Jack Dougherty’s mapping of the racial change in Hartford from 1950-2010. The reason for this change was another federal program run by the Federal Housing Administration which “subsidized the movement of white families out of central cities and into single-family homes in the suburbs into houses that were exclusively white. The federal government guaranteed loans to mass production builders to build tens of thousands of homes. The loans were guaranteed on explicit condition that no homes be sold to African Americans and that every home in the development had to have a clause in the deed prohibiting resale to African Americans” (Rothstein).

During the talk, Erin focused on how policies regarding affordable housing and homelessness play a role today in reinforcing this history of state sponsored segregation and the opportunity gap in our state. She explained that one of the ways that policymakers address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing is by defining what homelessness is in order to identify families that qualify for certain resources such as the Housing Choice Voucher. While defining homelessness is critical for impact evaluation, it also means that families who don’t meet the definition can fall through the cracks. Associate Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline said:

We discussed how there’s a difference between HUD’s definition of “literal homelessness” and the realities of many families with kids who double up and couch surf but have no reliable, permanent place to sleep each night.” -Megan Faver Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning

This narrower definition means that resources such as the Housing Choice Voucher have been invested only in families that are considered “literally homeless” by HUD’s definition. Erin says to address homelessness in the long term, it’s important to ensure we deal with real family homelessness now, including supporting families that are doubled up or couch surfing. This would mean either 1) hard decisions about re-allocating current resources, or 2) a meaningful increase in housing investments.

To further explain housing investments by the state, Erin gave an overview of OCA’s “Out of Balance Report” which measures the opportunity gap in different geographic areas in Connecticut. OCA started by designating neighborhoods’ “opportunity score,” which is indicated by educational indicators such as test scores and educational attainment, economic indicators such as unemployment rate and job diversity, and neighborhood/housing quality indicators such as neighborhood vacancy and homeownership rate (shoutout to the Fall 2018 Liberal Arts Action Lab team looking at Homeownership in Hartford with Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner!). They found that low opportunity areas, shown in the maps below in lightly shaded areas, were highly concentrated in communities of color.

Next, OCA mapped where subsidized housing is located, and the map patterns followed. They found that almost 90% of the subsidized housing developments created by the State of Connecticut are outside of high opportunity areas. In OCA’s research they found that many families living in low opportunity areas do want the choice to move to higher opportunity areas, but the number one deterring factor is the lack of affordable units in those areas.  Erin gave an example in Clay Arsenal in Hartford where over 54% of the units in the neighborhood are subsidized:

It is very hard for a neighborhood to succeed when government policy creates that concentration. It impacts everything from neighborhood infrastructure, to the ability to pay taxes to support municipal services, to schools. The tentacles of that policy decision spread out into so many areas. When people talk about things like the educational achievement gap, I talk about the opportunity gap, because this is so clearly about resources available.” – Erin discusses the concentration of subsidized housing in Clay Arsenal

Looking at the work of Richard Rothstein, Jack Dougherty, and the incredibly relevant recent research by OCA, it is clear that the current policies on homelessness and the locations and concentrations of affordable housing units are reinforcing the history of segregation and disinvestment in communities of color. When Kyle Smith ‘20 of the Trinity Homelessness Project asked Erin, “What should we be doing to try and solve these huge problems?” Erin explained that we got to where we are because a series of overtly and covertly racist policy decisions, and OCA’s policy agenda is driven by the research they have done with families most impacted by these housing decisions and their work in coalition with other groups, such as our community partners at Christian Activities Council. Erin said, “One piece of this is to ensure there are affordable housing choices in higher opportunity areas, and the other piece is to do investments in the areas that are struggling.”

Special thank you to the Department of Public Policy and Law, Joe Barber and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, the Trinity Homelessness Project, and Trinity Young Democratic Socialists.

Open Communities Alliance “is a Connecticut-based civil rights non-profit working with an urban-suburban interracial coalition to advocate for access to opportunity, particularly through promoting balances affordable housing development, including in thriving communities.” To learn more about OCA’s work visit http://www.ctoca.org

 

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Photo by Nick Caito.

Last week, high school students from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) attended the Connecticut Supreme Court Justices “On Circuit” program here at Trinity College. On October 17th, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments in one criminal case and one civil case (details below). The program provided students and faculty the opportunity to see the appellate process first hand, and included a Q&A session with the litigators after each case. The Q&A sessions were facilitated by Professor of Public Policy & Law, Glenn Falk.

Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy students in Advanced Placement Government and Mock Trial were a perfect fit for the audience.

“We just started a unit on the Bill of Rights in my civics class, so this experience was really timely. The students enjoyed watching the appellate court proceedings and had a lot of questions about the first case, which we will discuss in class. Please continue to offer these educational opportunities because it not only supplements the learning, but extends the learning experience and helps our students make important connections to the real world.” – HMTCA Teacher

Professor Falks prepared the following descriptions of the cases:

STATE OF CONNECTICUT V. JEAN JACQUES 

The defendant Jean Jacques is appealing from his murder conviction.  Before his arrest, Mr. Jacques rented an apartment in Norwich, Connecticut on a month-to-month basis, paying rent to the landlord on June 10, 2015.   On July 15, 2015, while Mr. Jacques was incarcerated, the police entered the apartment with the landlord’s permission and found evidence which tied Mr. Jacques to the murder, including the victim’s cell phone and a plastic bag containing drugs with the victim’s DNA on it.

AUSTIN HAUGHWOUT V. LAURA TORDENTI

Austin Haughwout, a college student, sued various administrators at Central Connecticut State University after he was expelled for making statements and gestures related to guns and mass gun violence.  Mr. Haughwout claimed that the school violated his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Mr. Haughwout is appealing from the trial court decision which upheld his expulsion.  He seeks reinstatement as a student and the expungement of his record.

Thank you to Urban Educational Initiatives Director, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Renny Fulco, Director, Public Policy and Law Program, for organizing the HMTCA classes to attend this event.

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For 29 years, Trinity College has hosted the annual “Halloween on Vernon Street.” This event, held on the Sunday before Halloween each year, provides a space for children in the Hartford area to come trick-or-treating, make crafts, and play games to celebrate Halloween.

Yesterday, Trinity Greek life organizations and cultural houses such as Umoja House and La Voz Latina opened their houses on Vernon Street where they provided candy, games, and music for families in the Hartford area. 

Children and parents in costume with trick-or-treating bags lined the sidewalk awaiting check in with the organizers from ACES (Annual Community Events Staff). Once at the front of the line, groups of families were linked with a student volunteer who showed them the circuit around Vernon Street where they collected candy, played games with Trinity students, and of course checked out everyone else’s costumes. Our personal favorite was the inflatable dinosaur.

At the end of Vernon Street, at Trinfo.Cafe, sat the goldmine of all Halloween celebrations: the Trinfo pumpkin patch. Parents and kids alike were sent into the garden to search for their perfect pumpkin, and then brought it over to volunteers to make sure all the dirt was cleaned off an it was ready for decoration. Inside Trinfo, there was a space for movies and crafts for kids who needed some quieter time.

 

It’s safe to say that the 29th Annual Halloween on Vernon Street was a success. This event would not be possible without the leadership of Alex Donald ‘19 and Lexie Axon ‘19, of ACES, all the student volunteers, Carlos Espinosa and Arianna Basche at Trinfo Cafe, and of course Joe Barber and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement.

 

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This essay was originally published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on September 7, 2018, and appears here with permission of the author.

Experiential education, an attempt to break down the barrier between classroom learning and everyday life, has long been a staple of professional disciplines. For the liberal arts, the partnership hasn’t come naturally. For many liberal-arts faculty members, an education should be for its own sake, not for job preparation.

Nonetheless, it is common now for liberal-arts colleges to advertise their embrace of experiential, “high impact” forms of education. These generally include place-based learning during study abroad, internships, civic engagement, and undergraduate research. Fully realized, the experiential liberal arts have the potential to transform higher education.

Large universities have taken the lead on this change. For example, my previous institution, Northeastern University, is fully connecting experiential education to the liberal arts. The university’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities has defined a model that links traditional liberal-­arts strengths (critical thinking, cross-cultural competency, etc.) with the long-established strengths in co-operative education that Northeastern is known for. In addition, it has embraced new competencies, particularly in areas such as data visualization, that clearly overlap with existing liberal-­arts disciplines.

Many traditional liberal-arts colleges, too, are embracing, if somewhat cautiously, forms of learning that would have been unthinkable in an earlier era. While business schools in those types of institutions are still rare, there has been a recent flowering of centers and programs focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. Such programs exist at Middlebury, Lewis and Clark, Bates, and Swarthmore, among other colleges.

At other liberal-arts colleges, some programs have long recognized the value of practical forms of education. Here at Trinity College, we have a distinctive, longstanding engineering program in which the very practical discipline of engineering is mixed with traditional liberal-arts skills. The logic for such a program is not simply to provide a practical route to employment within a liberal-arts context but also to bring the benefits of a rounded liberal-arts education to future engineers.

In truth, none of this should feel foreign. The value of practice, of doing, has long been taught across disciplines in liberal-arts colleges. The value of labs in the sciences has never been in question. Education theorists argue that doing is one of the surest pathways to learning. My discipline, geography, has a longtime commitment to fieldwork as a practice that reinforces the value of classroom learning.

Similarly, the arts disciplines insist on the need to actually play music, perform theater, and create sculpture as part of the education. Even in the seemingly rarefied worlds of philosophy, literature, and critical theory, there has been a turn toward worlds of practice and habit, which have too often been subordinated to the heady life of the intellectual.

Fully integrating experiential learning into the liberal arts is a bigger step, although with clear benefits for the employability of liberal-arts graduates. Employers point out that the kinds of things they are looking for in prospective employees include meaningful internships, global experience, civic engagement, and collaboration in addressing real-world problems. These are all features of experiential education.

But the benefits of the experiential liberal arts go well beyond employment in specific jobs. When students are encouraged to reflect on, and learn from, an array of experiences, they gain the skills to navigate their way through life and multiple careers.

To be most effective, the experiential liberal arts need to follow the general lead of experiential education and go beyond the academic-affairs divisions of our colleges. A successful experiential liberal arts will connect to the admissions and recruitment processes before students arrive on campus and to the career-advising and student-success divisions once they arrive.

Centering an admissions process on a series of numerical indicators derived from SAT or ACT scores is clearly not consistent with the goal of John Dewey, father of experiential learning, to include places other than the classroom in the concept of learning. The admissions process needs to take a more rounded view of the skills, talents, and varied forms of knowledge that are likely to signal an aptitude for integrated learning across a continuity of experience — a principle that means, in Dewey’s words, “that every experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those which come after.”

Such a process must recognize that valuable precollege experiences are not simply those that can be bought by well-to-do families, but also life experiences over which students often have little power, such as helping to raise siblings or dealing with an ill parent. Career services and student-­success programs play a role, too. A career office generally fails if it becomes simply a place to visit when you are close to graduation. Offices of career development and student success must be fully integrated into the learning experience throughout the years of college.

Administrators and faculty and staff members across all divisions of a college need to go about the business of curating an educational experience that creates the habits of mind conducive to continuous reflection and lifelong learning — habits that promote exactly the kind of self-knowledge that advocates of the liberal arts have always promoted.

Tim Cresswell is dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Trinity College, in Connecticut.

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Megan Faver Hartline is the Associate Director of the Office of Community Learning

 Where are you from where did you grow up? What brought you to Trinity?

I’m from Texas, but I haven’t lived there in 7 years. I moved to Connecticut a year and a half ago to work at Trinity after I finished my PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville.

Tell us about your work at Trinity.

I’m the Associate Director of Community Learning. I work on course based opportunities for students and faculty to engage with Hartford community partners. There are three main areas to my job: one is faculty development which involves working with faculty on their courses to help them create strong community learning components and to create projects that are beneficial to students and also to the community partners. The second piece is about student program development—credit-bearing or paid work for academic community engagement work. This includes the Community Action Gateway (first year learning community for students interested in creating social change) and the Public Humanities Collaborative (a summer research program for students interested in humanities including research with a faculty member and Hartford community partners). The third piece of my work is developing and strengthening relationships with Hartford community partners. This means I am meeting regularly with folks in the city to learn about their goals within their organizations and in the city as a whole. Then I can think about ways that Trinity faculty and students can help them reach those goals.

I’ll also say that one of the reasons I was excited to take this job is the long history of Community Learning at Trinity (which started in 1995!). I was excited to step into a position where there are faculty who have been invested in community learning for decades and great interest from new faculty to see how they can connect their course goals with community needs. Whether I’m working with long-term classes like Stefanie Wong’s Analyzing Schools and Dina Anselmi’s Child Development or newer courses like Sheila Fisher’s Prison Literature and Serena Laws’ Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford, I love that I get to be a part of continuing the story of how Trinity is invested in the city of Hartford.

What are your interests and passions?

Generally speaking: community development, overthrowing the patriarchy, political engagement, and Mexican food. I also like ballet and musicals. For a long time my Instagram bio was “I’m probably thinking about feminism or tacos.”

What are some of your favorite memories?

I think my favorite part of my job is connecting with students who are really invested in community learning opportunities. Whether that’s working with Community Action Gateway students or learning about the Research Fellows projects, it’s always really great to see what students are interested in and how they’re connecting what they’re learning about on campus to what’s happening in the city. One of my favorite memories was exploring Hartford with Gateway students last year. It was their first year in Hartford as well as mine, and we learned a lot together as a class. We learned about local organizations here and got out and around the city. We went over to the Wadsworth Atheneum and also checked out local cuisine such as First & Last for breakfast and Black Eyed Sallys. This year, we’ve gone to El Sarape and Mozzicato’s.

What else should people know about you?

I’m really invested in every tv show Mike Schur has created (fun fact: he’s from West Hartford). Also, I’m still really emotionally invested in Parks and Rec and (more recently) the Great British Baking Show.

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Megan Brown is the Director of the Liberal Arts Action Lab, a partnership between Trinity College, Capital Community College, and Hartford community partners.


Tell us about your work at Trinity College. What does a day in the life look like?

As Director of the Action Lab, I split my time between the students and the community. Most of my time on any given day is spent teaching students how to design and carry out action research projects with Hartford community partners. I personally supervise all Action Lab project team meetings every week to help guide and manage the projects, teaching students how to do research and how to work in a team. I also spend a good deal of time meeting with Hartford community groups, listening to their problems, and helping them define a researchable question that could turn into an Action Lab project.


 
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up or where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA, but I’ve lived in California, Illinois, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina, and Connecticut. I live in Hartford now.

 
What are your interests?
I have my PhD in geography, and my research focuses on the shifting geographies of new labor movement campaigns, specifically the Fight for $15. I’ve always drawn inspiration for my research from the activist work that I’ve been a part of, and I became interested in how the labor movement is moving from traditional workplace organizing to city-based social movement-style organizing because of my time working in the labor movement in Seattle.

 
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite moments are when students interact with the world outside of campus – whether its touring an old gold leaf factory that’s been slated for redevelopment, collecting surveys at a courthouse, or working through their research results with the people who proposed the project. What goes on in the classroom is always that much more meaningful when it travels beyond the walls.
 

 
What else should people know about you?
I’m a big women’s soccer fan, and am saving up for a trip to watch the World Cup in France next summer.
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In Community Learning courses, you can connect your liberal arts courses with on-the-ground projects in partnership with Hartford organizations. At Trinity, we define Community Learning as an experiential learning process that involves 1) collaborative partnerships and 2) perspective building relationships. Take a look at the Spring 2019 opportunities…

CLIC 299: Art and Community with Professor Clare Rossini

The course has two primary focuses: the role of the arts in individual and community identity formation and empowerment and the particular challenges of mentoring elementary-age students as they create art. Students in the course are scheduled for a minimum of 35 hours per semester in the arts classroom at the Hartford Montessori Magnet School. Trinity students are assigned a group at the school with whom they work throughout their time at the school, assisting the children as they make their art and, at times, collaborating with them on special projects.

CLIC 290: Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford with Professor Serena Laws

One way that the federal government attempts to address poverty is through income tax policy. This seminar will read and discuss broader debates over economic inequality, tax expenditures, wealth redistribution, and related social policies. In addition, for the community learning component, students will be trained to do income tax preparation, and volunteer for six hours per week to assist Hartford residents at the Trinity VITA Tax Clinic, located near campus at Trinfo Café.

HISP 280: Hispanic Hartford with Professor Aidali Aponte-Aviles

This course seeks to place Trinity students in active and informed dialogue with the Hartford region’s large and diverse set of Spanish-speaking communities. The course will help student recognize and analyze the distinct national histories (e.g. Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Chilean, Honduran, Cuban, Colombian, and Mexican) which have contributed to the Hispanic diaspora in the city and the entire northeastern region of the United States. Students will undertake field projects designed to look at the effects of transnational migration on urban culture, institution-building, and identity formation. (Also offered under the Latin American and Caribbean studies concentration of the International Studies Program.)

Fulfills GLB2, Requires HISP 221 or 224

RHET 320: Queer Rhetorics with Professor Nick Marino

This class is open to anyone interested in learning how rhetoric can create new knowledges and perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Specifically, we will apply rhetorical methodologies to US history, popular culture, politics, and law to research the formation of LGBTQ identities alongside mainstream identities in America. Our course moves from the rhetoric surrounding the 1960s Stonewall Riots through current debates about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and gay marriage. We also investigate the influence of alternative rhetorics, such as the subversive use of social media activism and the spatial arguments of gender neutral bathrooms. Students will take away the ability to rhetorically navigate key dialogues about gender and sexuality, as well as articulate how these debates influence research and knowledge creation in their majors.

Fulfills HUM

URST 321: Geographies of Transport with Professor Julie Gamble

Mobility is a permanent aspect of life. Transport infrastructures are a determinant of the spatial, economic, and social structures of cities. This course will introduce students to the spatial and social aspects of transportation and mobility across the globe. This course will act as a forum for research into transport and mobility, including debates on the planning and formation of transport policymaking.

Fulfills SOC, Requires URST 101

ENVS 310: Environmental Geophysics with Professor El Hachemi Bouali

This course will introduce students to near-surface geophysical techniques and their environmental applications. Lectures will provide the theory and background knowledge required to collect and interpret geophysical data. Hands-on exercises will allow students to gain experience in conducting geophysical surveys, operating equipment, and data analysis.

Fulfills NAT, Requires ENVS 112L and MATH 127 or higher

EDUC 200: Analyzing Schools with Professor Stefanie Wong

This course introduces the study of schooling within an interdisciplinary framework. Drawing upon sociology, we investigate the resources, structures, and social contexts which influence student opportunities and outcomes in the United States and other countries. Drawing upon psychology, we contrast theories of learning, both in the abstract and in practice. Drawing upon philosophy, we examine competing educational goals and their underlying assumptions regarding human nature, justice, and democracy. In addition, a community learning component, where students observe and participate in nearby K-12 classrooms for three hours per week, will be integrated with course readings and written assignments.

Fulfills SOC

ENVS 230: Environmental Chemistry with Professor Arianne Bazilio

This course will cover basic chemical concepts, such as polarity, volatility, and solubility, as they relate to chemical behavior in the environment. The ability to predict environmental behavior from chemical structure will be emphasized. Human and environmental toxicology will be discussed, and specific pollutants will be examined. Case studies will be used to illustrate concepts. The laboratory will emphasize techniques used for environmental analysis.

Fulfills NAT, Requires Chemistry 111L and 112L

LATN 105: Latin in the Community, with Professor Lauren Caldwell, F 1:15-3:55PM

Students will learn a curriculum designed for middle-schoolers (e.g. Aequora: Teaching Literacy with Latin) and read articles on Classics and community outreach to work with local schools (e.g. HMTCA) to support their Latin Club. This “lab” culminates in a final project (e.g. research poster or paper). Students who have taken at least one semester at Trinity are automatically eligible; students with at least one year of Latin elsewhere are eligible, with instructor’s approval. Requires 1 semester of Latin at Trinity or 1 year of Latin elsewhere (e.g. in high school).

Special thank you to Faculty Director of Community Learning, Jack Dougherty, and Associate Director of Community Learning, Megan Faver Hartline.

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Carlos Espinosa has been Director of Trinfo Cafe for 18 years and now also serves as Director of the Office of Community Relations.

Tell us about your work at Trinity and in the community. What does a day in the life look like for you?

A typical day is very high paced. Trinfo has merged with the Office of Community Relations which requires me to think more deliberately about where opportunities arise for collaboration across programmatic pieces. Some opportunities I’ve been thinking about include how to offer Trinfo’s technical skills in building WordPress websites for community organizations in Hartford, and how to strengthen the core community relationships we have within the Neighborhood Revitalization Zone groups in the neighborhoods that surround the College. The merger’s timing collided with a staff departure which offered another opportunity to strategically restructure staffing support for Trinfo and OCR. I’ve been the principle trainer of Trinfo’s new Program Manager and I have been learning the inner workings of OCR’s duties as director. Overall, there has been quite a bit of relearning old duties while learning new skills at the same time. I am able to see new opportunities that not only  deepen the connections between Trinfo.Cafe and OCR, but also look for ways to create new connections between CHER’s programs and its broader academic mission to create learning opportunities for Trinity’s students through deliberate engagements with Hartford’s residents and organizations.

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Hartford, not too far from campus in the Behind the Rocks neighborhood.

What are your interests and passions?

My interests range broadly between geeking out on old muscle cars and classic video games to civic engagement around politics and life in Hartford.

What is your favorite part about your job and/or one of your favorite memories?

My favorite part about my job is that no two days are seemingly the same. That constant along with the enthusiasm of college students keeps me energized.

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Arianna Basche is the Program Manager at Trinfo.Café & the Office of Community Relations

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut and attended Glastonbury High School. I graduated from Williams College in 2016, where I majored in English and got a certificate in Spanish– that’s like a minor. I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina when I was a junior in college. I currently live in Hartford.

What are your interests and passions?

I’m passionate about creative writing. In 2017, I published a reported piece in Hartford Magazine about local events that bring people together and foster community. I also wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant about overcoming the stigma of moving in with your parents, and another op-ed about free outdoor recreation offered by the CT Air Line Trail. I’m open to exploring any topic that interests me. I also play guitar and sing. I love yoga, and I’ve learned recently that I really like spinning, so that’s been an unexpectedly satisfying activity. Working at Trinity has already inspired me and opened me up to new perspectives, so I can’t wait to see how this influences my everyday creativity.

Tell us about your work at Trinity and in Hartford. What does a day in the life look like for you?

I am the Program Manager for both Trinfo.Café and the Office of Community Relations.  On the Trinfo side, I supervise a staff of Trinity student workers. Trinfo student workers provide cost-free computer literacy classes for adults, after-school programming for youth, and fun events for the community. I also work with the Trinity faculty who maintain Trinfo’s community garden.  

On the Office of Community Relations side of things, I represent the College at meetings for the Frog Hollow, MARG, and SWBTR Neighborhood Revitalization Zones. I’m there to help Trinity stay in the loop on what’s happening in the community, and vice versa. For example, at the last MARG meeting, I shared an announcement about the kickoff of Trinity College’s Chapel Music Series because it’s an event series that might interest our neighbors. I’m also on SINA’s REACH committee. And, if a community group wants to host an event on campus, I help to make that happen. 

I started working at Trinity in September. This is a new position, so I’m excited to see how my role evolves.

 

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Photo: Standing outside Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker, from L – R, Professor Stefanie Wong, Rob Johnson (8th grade teacher), Annie Moore ’22, Jonah Capriotti ’22, Ashley O’Connor (7th grade teacher), Rafael Villa ’21, Lexi Zanger ’19. 

EDUC 200: Analyzing Schools
Professor Stefanie Wong, Educational Studies
Trinity College, Hartford, CT

In “Analyzing Schools,” Professor Stefanie Wong students introduces students to the study of schooling within an interdisciplinary framework, drawing on sociology, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy. Students combine their classroom learning about educational theories and settings with observing and participating in nearby K-12 classrooms for three hours per week. Through their classroom placements, students integrate theoretical readings with first-hand experiences in K-12 schools, deepen understandings and reflections on the contexts and inequities of urban schools and the purposes of education, develop meaningful relationships with students and teachers, and gain practical experience about teaching and curricula. Overall, the key goal of this course is to explore the central question: How can we best understand the practices, policies, and patterns in classrooms and schools in ways that enable us to create and sustain just, inclusive, effective, engaging, and pedagogically strong educational spaces?

Professor Wong explains the importance of community learning for Analyzing Schools, “The experiential component of the course allows students to connect course readings and themes to real life classroom experiences. As a result, they develop deeper understandings of how teaching and learning happens both in individual classrooms and within social contexts. Teachers also appreciate having Trinity students in their classrooms. They tell me about how helpful Trinity students are in supporting learning activities, and how much their students enjoy working with college students. Sometimes, Trinity students build lasting relationships with their teachers and schools, continuing to volunteer at the school beyond their course commitment.”

To successfully integrate classroom and community learning for her 26 students, Professor Wong constructs a detailed framework of logistical documents, writing assignments, and assessment opportunities for community partners. Together, these help her create mutually beneficial partnerships with local K-12 teachers and rewarding learning environments for students because she has crafted ways to stay organized in her approach to her community learning component and evaluate student work across multiple dimensions.

Logistical Documents

Professor Wong’s Scheduling Form and Participant Observation Contract allow her to set up school placements and set expectations with her students for when and how often they will be with their K-12 teachers.

Download (PDF, 286KB)

Download (PDF, 27KB)

Writing Assignments

Professor Wong asks her students to discuss their growing understanding of schooling by integrating what they have learned in her classroom and in their K-12 placement across multiple writing assignments. Here you can see several types of writing assignments: a reflection journal, a writing exercise, and two analysis papers.

Download (PDF, 72KB)

Download (PDF, 61KB)

Download (PDF, 79KB)

Download (PDF, 56KB)

Assessment Opportunities for Community Partners

To ensure that students are fulfilling their contracts and partners are benefitting from the students working in their classrooms, Professor Wong has included multiple opportunities throughout the semester for community partners to offer feedback on student work.

Mid-semester, Professor Wong sends teachers their first evaluation, which is ungraded but shared with students so they can see how they might grow. The assessment consists of a google form with the following questions:

1) Has your Trinity student been coming to your classroom as scheduled?
2) As a participant-observer, has your Trinity student been actively and meaningfully engaged in the life of your classroom?
3) Any additional comments or advice that you would like us to share with your Trinity student?

At the end of the semester, she sends another Google form, and the ratings provided comprise students’ grade for participant observation. Questions include:

1) Did the Trinity student responsibly schedule their time in your classroom, completing approximately 8 three-hour sessions (or the equivalent of 24 total hours) by the end of this semester?
2) As a participant-observer, was the Trinity student actively and meaningfully engaged in the life of your classroom?
3) Rate the Trinity student’s overall effort on the two items above. (1-10 scale)

Lastly, she asks some teachers who have coordinated student placements to attend and evaluate final project presentations by students, where they present a week-long curriculum for the grade and topic of their choice. Below is the form that students use in this process.

Download (PDF, 32KB)

Coordinating, integrating, and assessing community learning can be a complex, onerous task, but Professor Wong’s documents offer a map for how an instructor can successfully manage a community partnership project that is beneficial for her students’ learning and for helping partners meet their goals.

Interested in developing a Community Learning component for your course like Wong’s “Analyzing Schools”? Contact Megan Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning, for opportunities, resources, and feedback about this process. 

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Last week, Trinfo cafe kicked off its after school programming with community partner, Organized Parents Make a Difference (OPMAD). Trinity student, Kayla Betts ‘21, is leading weekly after school media literacy workshops at Environmental Sciences Magnet School and Kennelly Elementary School.

Kayla has experience assisting with the program in the past. This year, she took on the role as lead teacher.

“I love seeing the excited faces when explaining what the agenda will be for the class. The elementary school students enjoy the experience, and so does their teacher. “It’s rewarding to be able to work with bright students that have so many questions. It is honestly the favorite part of my day!” – Kayla Betts, ’21, Trinfo.Cafe Student Worker

In the photo above, Trinfo Cafe’s Program Manager Arianna Basche assists Kayla in teaching. The entire curriculum was developed by Trinity students.

To learn more, visit Trinfo.cafe.org

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In the video above, Stefanie Chambers (Professor of Political Science at Trinity) and Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens ’13 (Community Outreach and Education Coordinator at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center) discuss their Community Learning partnership. Darby-Hudgens invited students in Chambers’s Pols 355: Urban Politics course to ride the bus and experience the Center’s “Hartford Fair Housing History Tour.” In turn, students are helping the Center to research and digitize archival materials to create a mobile-friendly digital version of the tour, in order to reach broader audiences. Ordinarily, a field trip in Hartford does not fulfill our definition of Community Learning, because these trips are typically one-way educational experiences. But in this case, Chambers and Darby-Hudgens created a two-way collaborative learning activity. Trinity students ride the bus to experience the tour and help the partner to create better materials for the digital version. As a result, everyone gains deeper and richer knowledge about ways of telling the history of fair housing in Hartford.

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Last week, ConnPIRG and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement hosted the first “Trin Talk” of the semester, with the evening’s questions focused on social media and free speech. The organizers of Trin Talks say the goal is to get Trinity students engaged in meaningful conversation. They know students are having these conversations in their dorms, with friends, and on social media platforms. Trin Talks gives them an opportunity to have those conversations with people who think differently than they do.

In the video below, student panelists of different experiences, backgrounds, and opinions share their thoughts on the use of social media, racist posts that went viral over the summer, and responses they would like to see in the Trinity College community.

We extend a special thank you to Joe Barber, Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, and organizer Trinna Larsen ’20 for coordinating coverage of the event.

We extend a special thank you to Joe Barber, Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, and organizer Trinna Larsen ’20 for coordinating coverage of the event.

The topic of free speech on campus could not be more timely as we welcome the Connecticut Supreme Court to Trinity’s campus on Wednesday October 17th. Two oral arguments will take place in the Washington Room beginning at 10:00 a.m. In one of the cases, Central Connecticut State University student Austin Haughwout sued administrators after he was expelled for making statements and gestures related to guns and mass gun violence.  Mr. Haughwout claimed that the school violated his right to freedom of speech and is appealing from the trial court decision which upheld his expulsion. 

We hope to see you on Wednesday for the oral arguments, and stay tuned for the next Trin Talk event by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo above: Members of the Hartford Resident Advisory Board reviewing Action Lab proposals with Director Megan Brown.

The Liberal Arts Action Lab received 20 proposals in September 2018 from prospective Hartford community partners, and each described a research question or problem that they would like help in answering. Last week, the Hartford Resident Advisory Board reviewed all of the proposals and prioritized 6 to advance to the next stage.

Students and faculty fellows are welcome to apply by Wednesday October 24, 2018 to join any of the Action Lab projects above. Depending upon scheduling and interest, we expect to support 4 teams during the Spring 2019 semester. Apply online, and read more details about each project below the form, at http://action-lab.org.

  • Culinary Careers Project: Billings Forge Community Works asks for research to improve its training programs for entry-level food service workers to move into middle-income managerial jobs.
  • Neighborhood Needs Project: Southwest and Behind the Rocks Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) requests a community survey to better understand local needs and assets.
  • Student Success Project: West Indian Foundation asks for research to improve the integration of West Indian children and families into Hartford-area schools.
  • Colt Park Project: The National Parks Service and its Hartford partners seek a better model to estimate annual park usage and collect data about people’s experiences at Colt Park.
  • Latinx Theater Project: Hartford Stage requests local research with Hartford’s Latinx arts community to improve and expand their partnerships and programming.
  • Riverside Recapture Project: Riverfront Recapture asks for research with Hartford’s North End neighborhoods in guide their two-mile expansion of the Riverwalk trail system.

Video: Listen to Action Lab students and faculty describe how they learn with Hartford community partners.

Prospective students from Capital Community College and Trinity College are welcome to list up to 5 preferences. Students must be available to enroll in two Action Lab courses: LAAL 200 Action Research Methods in Hartford (for all students on Monday afternoons, around 1-4pm) and an LAAL 201 Hartford Research Project team (6 students, meets either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday afternoons, around 1-4pm, or Wednesday evenings, around 6:30-9:10pm). Both will be taught by the Action Lab Director at our downtown campus, and successful students will earn 2 Trinity credits, which is the equivalent of 6 CCC credits. The Action Lab will inform students if they have been matched to a project team by early November, before pre-registration for the Spring 2019 semester.

Prospective faculty fellows are welcome to list up to 3 preferences. Your name will publicly appear online, to help us match you with prospective students. Full-time or part-time faculty, advanced graduate students, or staff with subject or method expertise, from Capital Community College, Trinity College, or other institutions in the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, are welcome to apply. Fellows will provide academic guidance and evaluate student work for at least one semester, and must be available to meet with project team at least once a month (either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday afternoons, or Wednesday evenings) at our downtown campus, plus one additional pre-semester meeting of all faculty fellows. (The Action Lab Director will supervise teams of students on a weekly basis.) The Action Lab will inform prospective fellows if they have been matched to a project team by early November, before students pre-register for the Spring 2019 semester. If selected, faculty fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend.

Contact the Action Lab if you have questions about the application process.

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Photo: ConnectiKids at their annual celebration in 2017. Photo credit to ConnectiKids, Inc.

Tomorrow marks the 40th birthday of our community partners at ConnectiKids, which we think deserves a huge shoutout and celebration. ConnectiKids Inc. is a nonprofit positive youth development agency that grew out of a dedicated group of people within the Asylum Hill Congregation who noticed students needed help in the community and began providing after school homework help. Today, ConnectiKids, Inc. is an all around powerhouse nonprofit organization focused on positive youth development and educating, enriching, and empowering Hartford’s youth.

Trinity has a long-standing partnership with ConnectiKids where over 50 Trinity students participate in the tutoring and mentoring program for K-8 students at West Middle Community School and Michael D. Fox Elementary School each year. Trinity students provide homework help and talk through any challenges or life goals the younger students are facing.

“We have always depended on Trinity students in our programs and they always deliver beyond what we ask. If I ask for volunteers, they’ll show up with 10 friends when I asked for 3. If I want to show our elementary and middle school students a tour of Trinity, they’ll say “I’ll show you! You can see my dorm!” And one of the best parts is that the Trinity tutors and mentors come back every year. So, some get started their Freshman year and we are seeing them show up  all the way through their four years. That’s important to the kids in our programs.” -Kiera Steele, ConnectiKids Program Director 

During the school year, ConnectiKids provides arts and enrichment programs such as cooking classes, martial arts, hip-hop and drumming. All in all, ConnectiKids, a organization made up of 2 full-time staff, some part-time program staff, and volunteers serves over 300 students per year. In the future, Kiera hopes to connect the elementary and middle school students with robotics and science clubs at Trinity.

ConnectiKids is celebrating their 40th Birthday Bash Friday October 12th from 5:30-10PM at The Marquee, 960 Main Street in Hartford. To learn more about this event and ConnectiKids, you can visit their website at http://ct-kids.org.

 

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Photo: HMTCA graduate Bea Dresser and Urban Educational Initiatives Director, Robert Cotto, Jr. at HMTCA graduation.

Bea Dresser ’22 is a current Trinity College student who attended high school at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). Urban Educational Initiatives, a CHER program directed by Robert Cotto, Jr., includes a long-standing partnership between Trinity and HMTCA. This initiative is an early college experience where HMTCA high school students all participate in summer writing and science programs, can apply to take a highly selective introductory college course, and participate in community learning projects and on-campus events and activities with Trinity faculty and staff. We asked Bea to tell us about her experience.

How was your transition from HMTCA to Trinity?
I believe my transition from HMTCA to Trinity was a different experience compared to my peers. For starters, I am very familiar with the campus and area. I found myself moving confidently into and out of the campus because HMTCA gave us several opportunities to walk around the neighborhood and explore niches of the South End independently.

What do you like most about Trinity so far?
I appreciate the resources and classes available at Trinity. I am currently in the Pre-Law Society, volunteering for Capitol Squash, and am working at the Trinfo Cafe. Additionally, I am taking interesting classes such as my political science course, “Prison and Justice in America.” I am able to tailor my experience to fit my career goals with ease because of the opportunities available at Trinity.

What advice would you give to current HMTCA students?
I would advise students at HMTCA to make the most out of their high school experience. For me, that meant going out of my comfort zone and becoming a leader in various groups across campus. Whether it is outside or inside the classroom, I suggest that you pursue something that makes you want to work hard, and once you find that continue to be an innovative leader within that capacity.


Urban Educational Initiatives connects the college community with nearby public schools, such as the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA), a grade 6-12 interdistrict magnet school with city and suburban students in an early college program. Contact Director Robert Cotto Jr.

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We proudly announce the launch of the new Center for Hartford Engagement and Research at Trinity College! CHER coordinates five core programs that connect us with the city: Community Learning, Community Service & Civic Engagement, the Liberal Arts Action Lab, Trinfo.Cafe, and Urban Educational Initiatives. Our mission is to strengthen educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and students, staff, and faculty at Trinity College.

Community Partners:
Submit your Action Lab Proposal by Sept. 28th

Do you have a research question that would help your Hartford neighborhood group, non-profit organization, government agency, or small business? Submit your one-page proposal by Friday September 28th at http://action-lab.org. If our Hartford-resident advisory board prioritizes your proposal, we will work to recruit a team of Capital Community College and Trinity College faculty and student researchers to answer your question in Spring 2019. Recent Action Lab partners and projects:

  • Connecticut Fair Housing Center asked: How do Hartford residents and their families experience the eviction process?
  • HartBeat Ensemble asked: How can we promote “creative placemaking” in the Asylum Hill neighborhood without gentrification?

  • Hartford City Councilmember Wildaliz Bermudez and CT Open Communities Alliance asked: What are the best ways for Hartford to communicate with suburban residents about the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT)?

  • Community Solutions International asked: How can we map relationships between neighborhood housing and health disparities in Northeast Hartford?

For questions or help with preparing your proposal, visit http://action-lab.org or contact Action Lab Director Megan Brown.

20th Annual Do-It Day Matches Over 350 Trinity Volunteers and Community Partners

On the 20th anniversary of Do-It Day, hundreds of Trinity students volunteered with community partners across Hartford — including cleanup with Friends of Pope Park, gardening with KNOX, Inc., creating props for Night Fall, and home demolition with Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance. Read more.

Welcoming HMTCA students to the Trinity Campus

Help us welcome the Fall 2018 Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy students! The Trinity-HMTCA initiative is an early college experience where high school students have the opportunity to enroll in summer writing and science programs, a highly selective introductory college course, and collaborate with Trinity faculty and staff in community learning projects and on-campus events and activities. Read more.

Community Learning:
Professor Seth Markle and Hartford Hip Hop Pioneers

Professor Seth Markle describes community learning in his “Global Hip Hop Cultures” course, where students conducted oral histories and created videos with Hartford’s artistic pioneers from the 1980s and ‘90s in collaboration with the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library. Read more and watch the video, edited by Giovanni Jones ‘21.

We Value Community: Send Nominations for CHER Hartford Resident Advisory Board by Friday September 21st.

The CHER Advisory Board seeks nominations (including self-nominations) for Hartford resident members. Read more at https://cher.trincoll.edu/about/advisory-board/ and contact us by Friday September 21st.

Questions? Suggestions? Contact us at CHER.

Jack Dougherty, CHER Director

Erica Crowley, CHER Communications & Data Assistant

Joe Barber, Community Service and Civic Engagement

Megan Brown, Liberal Arts Action Lab

Robert Cotto Jr., Urban Educational Initiatives

Carlos Espinosa, Trinfo.Café

Megan Faver Hartline, Community Learning

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We are excited to announce the Fall 2018 Community Learning Research Fellows! These student fellows collaborate with Hartford-area community partners and Trinity faculty sponsors on semester long community-based research or creative projects. Yesterday, these seven fellows worked with faculty and staff at Trinity to refine their research questions and seek advice on the next steps of their research project. We extend a special thank you to Professor Laura Holt for teaching and guiding the fellows through the semester and helping them to tackle research questions that are useful to students, faculty, and community partners alike.

The Fall 2018 Fellows are as follows…


Student Researcher: Aidan Arnold ’21

Faculty Sponsors: Serena Laws

Community Partner: Southwest/Behind the Rocks Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ)


Student Researcher: Olivia Curreri ’19

Faculty Sponsors: Dina Anselmi, David Reuman, and Amie Senland

Community Partner: Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA)


Photo by Daisuke Katsumata

Student Researcher: Vianna Iorio ’19

Faculty Sponsors: Jack Dougherty, Tennyson O’Donnell, and Megan Hartline

Community Partner: Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) Writing Center


Student Researcher: Sam McCarthy

Faculty Sponsors: Alyson Spurgas

Community Partner: NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut


Photo by Daisuke Katsumata

Student Researcher: Stefania Ruibal ’19

Community Partner: Jubilee House


Student Researcher: Mabel Silva ’20

Community Partner: The Village for Families and Children


Student Researcher: Jitty Synn ’19

Community Partner: Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection


Photo by Daisuke Katsumata

 

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Photo: Professors Megan Brown (L) and Carol Clark (R) work with Trinity students (Michelle Treglia ’18, Grace Metry ’18, and Jillian Ramsay ’18) on posters based on their community learning projects.  

Please join the Community Learning program in celebrating the Trinity College faculty who will be part of the inaugural 2018-19 Community Learning Faculty Fellows program! This new program was created to support first- and second-year faculty in developing teaching connections with Hartford community partners. These faculty will meet four times throughout the year to to discuss and design a Community Learning component to be taught in one of their upcoming courses, considering issues such as ethics in community engagement, partnership development, and mutually beneficial projects as they prepare their courses. Each fellow also receives a $1,000 stipend.

This year’s faculty and courses include:

Arianne Bazilio, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Chemistry
CHEM/ENVS 230: Environmental Chemistry, Spring 2019
Arianne Bazilio’s “Environmental Chemistry” course will include an experiential lab component where students will have the opportunity to work with local leaders on water treatment and water quality monitoring projects.

El Hachemi Bouali, Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Science
ENVS: Environmental Geophysics and lab, Spring 2019
Students in El Hachemi Bouali’s course on “Environmental Geophysics” will gain hands-on, laboratory experience operating geophysical equipment, acquiring real data while conducting geophysical surveys, processing data, and interpreting their results.

Lauren Caldwell, Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Classics
LATN 203: Adv. Latin Grammar/Reading , Fall 2018
Students in Lauren Caldwell’s “Adv. Latin Grammar/Reading” course will use what they have learned in their Latin classroom to volunteer in the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy Middle School to teach a Latin and literacy program.

Kyle Evans, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics
MATH 114: Judgment and Decision Making, Fall 2018
Kyle Evans’ “Judgment and Decision Making” course will engage students in the application of elementary mathematical analysis to various procedures by which societies and individuals make decisions, including through a community partnership project focused on gerrymandering.

Erin Frymire, Lecturer in the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric
RHET: Rhetorics of the Body and Activism, Fall 2019
Erin Frymire is developing a new “Rhetorics of the Body and Activism” course, which will combine classroom and community learning focusing on how people use their bodies in protest and activism.

Julie Gamble, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies
URST: Geographies of Transportation, Spring 2019
Julie Gamble’s “Geographies of Transportation” course will introduce students to the spatial and social aspects of transportation in part through a community partnership project with local bus rapid transit and/or bicycling infrastructure programs in Hartford.

Nick Marino, Lecturer in the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric
RHET 320: Queer Rhetorics, Spring 2019
Students in Nick Marino’s “Queer Rhetorics” class will learn to rhetorically navigate key dialogues about gender and sexuality including how these debates influence research and knowledge creation in their majors, while collaboratively writing with a local non-profit organization serving the LGBTQ+ community in Hartford.

Rebecca Pappas, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance
THDN 270: Arts in Action, Fall 2018
In Rebecca Pappas’ “Arts in Action” course, students learn from both academic and local community contexts as they study how arts organizations engage public audiences, partnering with Hartford-area museums, theaters, music groups, and more to gain a broad understanding of how the arts are a part of their city.

Alyson Spurgas, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women & Gender Studies
SOCL 272: Social Movements, Fall 2018
Students in Alyson Spurgas’ “Social Movements” course will spend the semester considering how social and political movements, historically and today, are organized from the ground up, while also collaborating with community partners to see how movement-building happens in the real world.

Emily Yen, Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Studies
URST: Politics of Real Estate, Fall 2019
Students in Emily Yen’s “Politics of Real Estate” course will analyze the commodification of housing in Hartford and New York City, partnering with housing stakeholders in Hartford to learn more about how public policies shape gentrification and ghettoization.

To learn more about the Community Learning Faculty Fellows program, please visit our website or contact Community Learning Associate Director Megan Faver Hartline

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Photo: Students from the Community Action Gateway and Professor Serena Laws after the Stowe Prize Action Fair and Discussion Events. 

The 2018-19 Community Action first-year gateway cohort at Trinity College started off their school year by attending the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s events for its annual Stowe Prize and Student Stowe Prizes, awarded to a U.S. author, a college student, and a high school student whose work has made a “tangible impact on a social justice issue critical to contemporary society.” Professor Serena Laws brought her entire seminar to the Stowe Center’s  Action Fair, which featured tables from local social action organizations, and a discussion event with this year’s prize winners: Matthew Desmond, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; Wes Gobar, University of Virginia for “What It’s Like to Be a Black Student When White Supremacists March in Your College Town”; and Zyahna Bryant, Charlottesville High School for “Change the Name of Lee Park and Remove the Statue.”

Wes Gobar and Zyahna Bryant, student Stowe Prize winners, speak with WNPR‘s Lucy Nalpathanchil at the Stowe Prize Event.
Wes Gobar and Zyahna Bryant, student Stowe Prize winners, speak with WNPR‘s Lucy Nalpathanchil at the Stowe Prize Event. Photo by Catherine Burton.

Desmond, Gobar, and Bryant all participated in an hour and a half long discussion moderated by WNPR‘s Lucy Nalpathanchil. Gobar and Bryant started the event with discussions of their actions in Charlottesville: Bryant’s petition to remove a confederate statue and rename a local park and Gobar’s activism in the face of August 2017’s white supremacist rally. They also called on audience members to combine national concerns with local action (Gobar) and remember the importance of intersectionality in activist movements (Bryant). Desmond spoke next, offering perspectives on both the writing of Evicted and what happened to some of the central figures following his research period. He also encouraged audience members to use data from the Eviction Lab as a way to consider how poverty and homelessness occur in their cities. His focus was less on new possible solutions, but instead on thinking about how we can expand current governmental housing programs (both subsidies for renters and mortgage interest deduction for homeowners) to address the vast amount of poverty in our nation today.

All three speakers offered exciting ways for Trinity students to think about their own community work during their time in Hartford. Aidan Arnold ‘21, focusing on how he connected with activists around his age, said he was ”totally blown away by the intellect and thoughtfulness of the student Stowe Prize winners.” Eleanor Faraguna ‘21 pointed out how important it is for Trinity students “to educate ourselves about the city and climate we live in for these next four years, both the good and the inequitable. The Stowe Prize event was a unique and privileged opportunity to learn more about the battle over the availability of affordable housing here in Hartford and on a national scale.”

At the Action Fair, Trinity students spoke with community leaders from organizations like Connecticut Fair Housing, Christian Activities Council, Hartford History Center, and True Colors (among many others). Students were able to meet local activists, learn more about community change happening in Hartford, and get a better sense of what is happening in their new city–an exciting opportunity for the first week of classes!

Overall, the Stowe Center’s event enabled students to hear more about local and national social change work–from students their age, from a much-lauded sociologist, and from local activists in Hartford. Learning from activist leaders in Hartford and beyond was the perfect way to start the semester for our Community Action students.

To learn more about the Community Action gateway, please see our website or contact Megan Hartline, Gateway Coordinator.

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As we begin the semester, here are a few reminders about Community Learning resources and upcoming events. 

Community Learning courses build reciprocal relationships between Trinity students and Hartford-area residents. Across the College, faculty plan to teach over 20 courses with Community Learning components in Fall 2018. View current and recent courses at https://cher.trincoll.edu/community-learning/courses/. If you’re teaching a Community Learning course this semester, remember to reserve up to $500 in course assistance funds  by Wednesday, September 12: https://cher.trincoll.edu/community-learning/faculty/course-assistance-funds/  

Come to our Community Learning Brainstorming Lunch to start planning your course for next semester, and learn how faculty colleagues integrate Hartford into their learning goals. At our next lunch during Common Hour (12:15-1:15 pm) on October 4, Dario Del Puppo and Johannes Evelein (Language and Cultural Studies) will discuss their First-Year Seminar: Cycling and Sustainability in Hartford. Newcomers are especially welcome to share their ideas, too. Please RSVP for the lunch here

The new Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) will publicly launch this fall to bring together several Hartford programs: Community Learning, Community Service and Civic Engagement (with Joe Barber), the Liberal Arts Action Lab (with Megan Brown), Trinfo.Cafe (with Carlos Espinosa), and Urban Education Initiatives (with Robert Cotto). We also welcome CHER’s newest colleague, our Communications and Data Assistant, Erica Crowley. She earned her MSW in Community Organizing from UConn, and previously collaborated with Trinity students as a Hartford community partner at NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.

Please contact either of us if you would like to discuss how to connect Hartford with your teaching goals, or help match you with community partners who share mutual interests.

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We invite newer faculty to join our first cohort of Community Learning Faculty Fellows (CLiFF). Between 4-6 fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend to participate in four one-hour meetings during the academic year to discuss and design a Community Learning component to be taught in one of their upcoming courses. Eligibility is open to first-year and second-year faculty on tenure-track or multi-year visiting appointments.

At Trinity, we define Community Learning as an experiential component that builds connections between your students, your course, and people in the Hartford area. It involves collaborative partnerships that benefit all parties, and perspective-building relationships to deepen and extend liberal arts learning. We typically support 25 courses per semester, with offerings from nearly all departments and programs over the last several years. Read more about community learning and view a wide range of course descriptions.

Apply by Wednesday August 15th, 2018 at 4pm by sending your CLiFF proposal, no more than two pages, via email attachment to Associate Director Megan Hartline. See the application guidelines at http://commons.trincoll.edu/cli/faculty/cliff/.

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Photo: On location at Heaven Skatepark with Giana Moreno ’20, Juanita Chislom aka Empress Nijuabi, and Isabel Exstein ’19.

Trinity College Professor Seth Markle and students in his INTS 344 Global Hip Hop Cultures reflect on their experience in creating videos with Hartford Hip Hop Pioneers of the 1980s and 1990s. Filmed in Feb 2018.

Tuesday, February 13th marks the premiere of seven digital stories about hip hop pioneers from Hartford. Last fall, Trinity students enrolled in my seminar course ‘INTS 344: Global Hip Hop Cultures’, and worked in teams to produce 3-4 minute multimedia narratives featuring Rick Torres, Dooney Bates, Myron Moye, Juanita Chislom, Mike Wilson, Janice Fleming and Apollo Villarini. These digital stories, along with full interviews in text and video form, will be part of the ‘Hartford Hip Hop Digital Repository’ of the Hartford Public Library.

INTS 344 is a seminar course that explores the link between hip hop, youth identity formation, and politics. Last semester I decided to take a different approach to the course. Rather than learn about hip hop through books, students were introduced to hip hop through an oral history and digital storytelling based curriculum. And, instead of examining hip hop cultures in Africa, Asia and Latin America students explored the global dimensions of the music and culture by critically interrogating the early history of hip hop in Hartford and the ways in which youth contributed to and were impacted by the culture’s emergence during the 1980s and early 1990s.

It took me about a year to completely redesign this course. I was lucky enough to receive a fellowship from Trinity’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which allowed me to utilize the resources and conversational space the fellowship provided to imagine an experimental learning course that would foment community learning and relationship building. In rethinking the course, I was immediately attracted to the ideas of oral history and digital storytelling not only because I engage with both mediums but also because I find them to be effective pedagogical approaches for promoting active learning and critical-creative thought in the classroom.

The course started to gain shape in October 2016 when I met with Jasmin Agosto, a graduate of Trinity College (Educational Studies, Class of 2010) and current staff member at the Hartford History Center (HHC) at the Hartford Public Library. I learned that she was in the preliminary stages of creating a Hartford hip hop archive. To begin that process, she was organizing an exhibition and panel discussion that she wanted me to moderate. I readily agreed and pitched her the idea of working together on digital stories about the history of hip hop in Hartford that would be made available to the public via what we are now calling the ‘Hartford Hip Hop Digital Repository’.

Graffiti mural promoting the Peace Train Breaking Competition, 1984-1985, Hartford, CT. Five boys and young men strike poses while breakdancing.
Graffiti mural promoting the Peace Train Breaking Competition, 1984-1985, Hartford, CT.

About a month later, the Hartford History Center sponsored “Hartford Hip Hop History: Then and Now”, a conversation about Hartford hip hop of the 1980s and 1990s and how the culture has evolved to the present. In addition to the panel, there was an archival exhibition containing posters, photographs, newspaper clippings, and video footage. Due to the positive feedback received, the HHC was fully committed to building a digital collection about hip hop in Hartford. The event was an overwhelming success and ultimately set the groundwork for the identification of Hartford hip hoppers for the digital stories for the INTS 344 course.

During the spring semester of 2017, Jasmin and I participated in CLI’s “Digital Storytelling for Community Learning” Workshop at Trinity College. Held on March 24, this all-day workshop was also extremely helpful in clarifying learning objectives, process, and assessment. I learned that, for college-based educators, incorporating digital storytelling into the college classroom allows for a transformative learning experience; builds and enhances communication skills; deepens content understanding; helps develop technical and media literacy skills; and strengthens critical thinking through peer reviewing.

Khaiim Kelly instructs Cody Maldonado on how to use beat making software.
Khaiim Kelly instructs Cody Maldonado ’20 on how to use beat making software.

Fifteen students enrolled in the course. Their majors ranged from International Studies to History to Studio Arts to Educational Studies to English. They participated in workshops that sought to equip them with the technical skills needed to construct a quality digital story while being exposed to Hartford’s rich history of cultural diversity as seen through the lens of people who used hip hop as a source of creative cultural expression and empowerment. The workshops were critical to the course’s effectiveness. Tim Wolf, a Hartford cultural activist, kicked off the semester off with a lecture about the early history of hip hop in Hartford. Christina Boyles, Trinity’s Digital Scholarship Coordinator, and Khaiim Kelly, a Hartford rap artist and educator, facilitated workshops on audio narration and beat-making, respectively. Kyle Young, a Hartford rap artist and multi-modal technician, delivered three useful workshops on the pre-production, production, and post-production phases of learning process. Overall, students learned about the unique art of narration by developing interview questions; conducting and transcribing interviews; script writing; camera operating; and editing audio and visual material by using multimedia applications such as Audacity, Photoshop and iMovie.

The students exceeded my expectations. They understood that this course was about more than a grade. I appreciated their patience, creativity, and commitment. They trusted the process in the face of many challenges. I really couldn’t have asked for a better crop of digital storytellers. This truly was a collaborative educational project. Thanks so much to the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center for Caribbean Studies, the Community Learning Initiative, and the Educational Technology Committee for providing the necessary course development funds. I look forward to teaching this course again in the future.

Seth Markle is an Associate Professor of History and International Studies at Trinity College whose work focuses on the histories of cultural and political exchange between Africa and the African Diaspora. He is the author of A Motorcycle on Hell Run: Tanzania, Black Power and the Uncertain Future of Pan-Africanism, 1964-1974 (Michigan State University Press, 2017) and is currently working on two separate multimodal projects about hip hop culture in Tanzania and Hartford.Students from his Global Hip Hop Cultures course will present their digital stories of Hartford hip-hop pioneers at the 2018 Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival, April 6-8. 

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