CCE Faculty Newsletter
October 2017 | Volume 6, Issue 3

Resources and Funding for Community-Based Teaching

Resources for Binghamton University Faculty
October 2017 | Volume 6, Issue 3

Faculty Spotlight: Lisa Blitz

Each summer Lisa Blitz, PhD, LCSW-R, associate professor of social work, teaches SW580/HDEV480: Asset-Based Community Development to Promote Social-Emotional Wellbeing for Youth in Malawi, an international service-learning course in Africa. The course connects undergraduate and graduate students with local residents to develop business initiatives for women and serve children and youth in need. In return, the students apply course concepts and develop cultural humility. Below, Lisa shares some of the challenges and impacts of the course.  

How did this partnership begin?

I developed the foundation for the course in 2015 during two site visits conducting a community-engaged action research project in partnership with the Malawi Children’s Mission (MCM). We interviewed members of the M’bwana, Jamali, and Mwanzama communities, group meetings with the mafumuwa (village chiefs and sub-chiefs), and large community meetings open to all residents. These interviews and discussions focused on how community members and leaders envision the future and what they want in terms of support to achieve their vision. Findings helped structure the academic service-learning projects.

What do the students do when they are in Malawi?

Our project supports the MCM Women’s Community Partnership, a group that came together as a result of the initial research project. The students organize professional and business development workshops that they teach to the women during our on-site visits in the summer. We also provide a range of services to the children and youth at MCM and professional development with the MCM teachers.

How is the community impacted?

We taught the women how to make homemade soap. The product was approved by the Malawi Bureau of Standards. They contracted with an NGO that supplies soap to government-run schools, sell soap in their villages, and are exploring an agreement with two guest lodges to supply their guest rooms.

How are students impacted by the course?

The most fulfilling part of the experience for me is watching the students become global citizens. They start out anxious, excited, unsure of just about everything, and ready for adventure. During their time in Malawi, they come to realize how much we all have in common. As our student Eboniqua said, “Everything felt so familiar; I felt at home.” Amira wrote in a blog, “I am a small fragment in this great big world, whose actions have the ability to affect others halfway around the world.” We see real development in cultural humility and new insights into history. I am confident that the insights and development are real and lasting.

What are some of the challenges you face in teaching this kind of course?

Service-learning requires a great deal of preparation. In addition to the pre-departure academic learning, we need to plan activities with the adults, youth and children and figure out what supplies can be purchased in Malawi and what needs to be brought from the U.S.

The experience is emotionally demanding. The students are exposed to financial and resource poverty beyond what they’ve seen before. They develop genuine caring relationships with MCM staff and the people in the communities so the community living conditions have real impact. Daily reflections on the process are crucial and require faculty to respond to students’ tears, shock and anger. Some students have a hard time saying goodbye, especially to the children, and need support through that process.

What advice would you give to other instructors interested in developing an international service-learning course?

Do it!

Lisa Blitz will be available at the Nov. 6 CCE workshop to share more about her experience with international service-learning. See below for more information.


Photo captions (top to bottom): 1) Lisa Blitz, associate professor of social work. 2) Students pose with local residents in Malawi. 3) Amira Abdul-Wahhab, a dual-degree master of public administration and social work student, spends time with local children while in Malawi during the summer of 2017. 4) Tom Mastro, a dual-degree master of public administration and student affairs administration student, poses with children he befriended while in Malawi during the summer of 2017.

CCE News

Resources, workshops and other opportunities for Binghamton University faculty members.

8th Annual Community Opportunities Fair

Thursday, Oct. 12
Noon-4 p.m.
UU-Mandela and Old Union Hall

The Center for Civic Engagement invites you to the 8th annual Community Opportunities Fair! This is an exciting chance for faculty, staff and students to connect with community organizations for service, learning and research opportunities. We will have over 90 organizations tabling at the event who address a wide variety of local issues such as health, immigration, education, housing and more. We hope to see you there!

Preparing Students for Cross-Cultural Engagement: A Faculty Workshop

Mon. Nov. 6
1:45-3:15 p.m.
Center for Learning and Teaching Learning Studio (LN-1324)

Engaging students with those who are culturally different stimulates self-awareness and cultural learning; however, these cross-cultural interactions may also reinforce stereotypes. This workshop will provide practical strategies and resources for effectively engaging students with immigrants, refugees, or culturally-diverse communities locally or abroad. Instructors leading cross-cultural projects will share their experiences. Register by Thursday, Nov. 2.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning


Regional, national and global service-learning and community engagement conferences.

4th Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding 

Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, 2017
New York City, N.Y.

The 4th Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding seeks to inspire and coordinate a global effort to humanize humanity by providing a platform and an opportunity for a pluridisciplinary, scholarly, and meaningful discussion on how to live together in peace and harmony, especially in ethnically, racially, or religiously divided societies and countries. Through this pluridisciplinary scholarly encounter, the conference hopes to stimulate inquiries and research studies that draw on knowledge, expertise, methods, and findings from multiple disciplines to address a broad range of problems that inhibit the ability of humans to live together in peace and harmony in different societies and countries, and at different times and in different or similar situations. Register on the conference website.

AAC&U’s 2018 Annual Meeting: Recapturing the Elusive American Dream

Jan. 24–27, 2017
Washington, D.C.

“Can Higher Education Recapture the Elusive American Dream?”—The American Association of Colleges and Universities 2018 Annual Meeting will reinforce the alignment of higher education, life, work, and citizenship by highlighting evidence-based educational practices guided by clearly articulated goals for student learning—practices designed for students of all backgrounds and across all disciplines and institution types. A Pre-Conference Symposium, “The Power of Civic Engagement—Across Campus, Within Communities, Beyond Borders,” will be held on Wednesday, January 24, and the Ninth Annual Forum on Digital Learning and ePortfolios will be held on Saturday, January 27. Registration will open on September 15.

Campus Compact 2018 National Conference

Indianapolis, Indiana
March 25-28, 2018

Higher education's role in the work of democracy has never been more important or more contested than it is right now. In March of 2018, we will come together in Indianapolis for our 2018 National Conference to share resources, strategies, and plans for action.
Copyright © 2017 Binghamton University CCE, All rights reserved.

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