U of M Dearborn frequently calls itself a metropolitan university, a term which references our identity as a commuter school and, by extension, as a school serving students from across the region. The Civic Engagement Project here has been able to capitalize on the fact that "metropolitan university" has become a buzzword. I got my new Writing for Civic Literacy course, on tap for Fall 07, approved with remarkable ease.
I like that the term "metropolitan university" sends the university in some cool directions, including out onto the street, and I'm heartened by the fact that our writing program is receptive to teaming with Civic Engagement. Down the road I envision designating a few sections of first-year comp as community-based research/service learning sections. Ellen Cushman spoke positively about how this "special section designation" model works at Michigan State, allowing students interested in such things to self-select.
We're starting to build community partners. St. Peter's Home for Boys is looking for more creative programming as well as general support for the work they do (literacy work, teaching life skills, helping the kids transition to independent living) with kids who come from abusive homes and become wards of the state. Possible projects for the Writing for Civic Literacy class include generating content for their website, and doing research and creating talking points for their legislative advocacy. A second community partner, Beyond Basics, is a literacy initiative at Title 1 elementary schools in Detroit. They put together homemade, d-i-y storybooks in their "publishing centers" at the schools. They tutor kids at the schools. Super cool stuff, and they're in need of a newsletter. Another potential project for students in the course next fall.