Two faculty members from the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) have been chosen to serve as part of a unique 18-month collaborative learning and leadership program.
Campus Compact describes the Engaged Scholars Initiative (ESI) as a program designed “to develop, support, and connect leaders who can advance co-created knowledge, critically engaged pedagogies, institutional change, and collaborative action to address societal issues.”
LaTrina Parker, Ph.D., P-16 Initiative Coordinator in UNO’s Service Learning Academy, and Ryan Spohn, Ph.D., Director of the Nebraska Center for Justice Research at UNO, were chosen for the first cohort of the Campus Compact Midwest Region ESI.
Parker and Spohn were both honored to be selected and look forward to giving back to the university through this program. “Having two representatives from UNO be selected as members of the 2019-2020 cohort of the Campus Compact Engaged Scholars Initiative is not only a great honor, but also reflects UNO’s culture and commitment to engaged scholarship that benefits the Omaha community, the State of Nebraska, and academic knowledge-base,” Spohn said. He hopes that the experience will not only build his professional network, but also expose him to practical and theoretical knowledge that he can use in his research on community engagement.
“I feel like I am contributing to an integral part of UNO’s mission because I am embarking on a research-focused endeavor that can contribute positively the university’s support of students as well as advance the community’s engagement goals,” Parker said. She is looking forward to creating knowledge, disseminating valuable and impactful scholarship, and showcasing the engagement work being done at UNO and across Nebraska.
"I feel like I am contributing to an integral part of UNO’s mission because I am embarking on a research-focused endeavor that can contribute positively the university’s support of students"
- Ryan Spohn, Ph.D.
Each member in the cohort must pursue a scholarly purpose, whether that be a research project, teaching objective, or application plan. Members can choose whatever objective strikes their interest.
Spohn has proposed collaborating with the Douglas County Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) to study the likelihood of youth completing juvenile diversion based on race or ethnicity, gender, and other factors. He plans to work with JAC staff to analyze the results and develop recommendations to improve practices and outcomes for youth in juvenile diversion.
Parker said her scholarly research would serve as an extension of her dissertation research, which focused on understanding cultural backgrounds when it came to methods of instruction in service learning. “I am interested in exploring themes from my dissertation research findings related to the propensity of African American college students with strong racial identities to give back to their communities through service and community engagement” she said. Understanding these themes can support their identity development, civic engagement, and academic success.
The 2019-2020 Midwest Region ESI cohort is comprised of 12 members nominated by college and university presidents and chief academic officers from nine institutions across 12 states.
“I am so thankful that Campus Compact dedicates energy to supporting community engagement professionals like myself,” Parker said. “I believe this commitment will provide me the tools and training to elevate UNO’s mission to ‘transform and improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and globally.”
The Midwest cohort gets underway with the 2019 Midwest Campus Compact Conference in May 2019. Members will conduct scholarly research that continues through August 2020.
For a full list of Engaged Scholars chosen from the Midwest Region, visit the Campus Compact Midwest Region website.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.