Promising Practices Conference Will Focus on Civic and Community Engagement 


The 16th annual Promising Practices conference will center on civic and community engagement. The conference will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2 from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. at locations throughout campus, beginning in the Donovan Dining Center.

“I think this is going to be an especially exciting year,” said Holly Dygert, conference co-organizer and assistant professor of anthropology. “We’re really going to talk about how educational institutions can work with local organizations and public agencies to improve community life.”

The conference is part of the college’s Dialogue on Diversity committee, which holds several events throughout the academic year to highlight how a richly diverse society strengthens community life.

The conference will bring together scholars, community organizations, teachers, students and public officials in a series of workshops, presentations, a collaborative symposium and poster sessions to, according to Dygert, “envision new ways of working together to improve the circumstances in our community.”

This year’s conference will include a plenary session titled “Marshaling the Power of Civic and Community Engagement: Confronting Rhode Island’s Most Pressing Challenges” that will be moderated by Scott MacKay of Rhode Island Public Radio and feature two panels comprised of local community and educational leaders.

In the first half of the plenary session, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg, United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Anthony Maione, and Providence Public Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi will focus on Rhode Island’s civic and economic challenges.

The second part of the session will bring together RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, Roger Williams University President Donald Farish, and Johnson & Wales University Providence campus President Mim Runey to discuss the contributions Rhode Island colleges are making to address Rhode Island’s most pressing issues.

“We’ve got all these stellar people coming,” Dygert said. “It’s going to be a great representation of local organizations, officials and other universities.”

Howard Rosing, executive director of the Irwin W. Steans Center for Community Based Service Learning and Community Service Studies at DePaul University, will deliver a keynote address on “Social Justice as Pedagogy: Action Research, Activist Learning and Critical Service Learning in Higher Education.”

There will also be a variety of learning sessions at the conference on topics such as undergraduate engagement initiatives, artistic approaches to cultivating community pride and stewardship, engaging high school students in place-based education and traveling and learning through a community through the concept of literacy walks.

Dygert said educators will be able to leave the conference with new ways to approach teaching projects around civic engagement, and that students will be inspired to engage in projects of their own.

“Everyone can network and I hope people walk way with some ideas on new kinds of community and educational collaborations,” she said.