COVID-19 and the Engaged Campus

March 11, 2020

updated 3/26/2020

A note from Indiana Campus Compact:

Though we are working remotely, all staff are accessible by phone and email. We understand that grant applications and award nominations are not foremost in your mind, so for this reason, we have adjusted the timelines to provide greater flexibility.

We hope that the following resources will be helpful to you as you adapt programs, teaching, and learning in the face of COVID-19. Campus Compact staff across the nation have been gathering information, best practices, and new ideas to help the SLCE community cope with the transition. Check back often for updates.

Dear Partners & Friends:

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve gone from sad to hopeful, angry to optimistic, and anxious to patient; though it hasn’t been necessarily a continuum. Rather, these feelings come over me in waves—never knowing which might strike next or when. While these emotions may seem counterintuitive, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive; feelings aren’t separated into neat boxes, despite how often I try. This has been the biggest a-ha for me during this strange time.

Maybe your experience has been similar?

I think what we’re going through is grief. We’re mourning the loss of a program we’ve spent all year building; we’re scrambling to learn new modes of instruction and communication as everything goes online; and we’re feeling for our students who’ve had to go home (some of whom are seniors).

While all this is happening in isolation, we want you to know that you aren’t alone. You remain our highest priority, and you have been on our minds.

  • Our team is still here (albeit remotely) to make sure you have the resources that will be most helpful for you during this time as you adapt programs, teaching, and learning in the face of COVID-19. We’ve organized these by topic on our COVID-19 and the Engaged Campus page to make it easier to find exactly what you need.

Also, we want to be as flexible as possible and realize that application deadlines might not be top of mind for you right now. With that, we have made some adjustments.

Lastly, we want to provide a space for you to come together, colleague to colleague. We want to learn how we can best support you, and for you to hear from your peers on what’s worked well and what hasn’t.

  • Virtual Conversations – Beginning this Friday, March 27th, we will host weekly Zoom meetings throughout the remainder of the semester. You can learn more and register here.

This past weekend my friend, the writer Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, shared a Vietnamese proverb that I thought was appropriate for this moment in time: “Good luck hides inside bad luck.”

We will get through this and may very well come out stronger on the other side.

Reflecting on the proverb I’ve realized that I’ve called my nearly 80-year-old parents each day to check in on them (something, I hate to admit, I didn’t do before). I’ve taken the time to break up my day by going on a walk or run. I’m spending more time with my family. While the work remains, I’m finding a new balance that I thought I’d perfected but truly hadn’t. May you find some sort of peace through this as well.

Please know that we are here for you, we see you, and we understand you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

In service  –



J.R. Jamison, MAEd
Executive Director



Indiana Campus Compact is hosting several virtual conversations in order to support stakeholders at partner campuses as they respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Calls will focus on resource sharing, ideas, and camaraderie. Calls will take place via Zoom. We encourage participants to utilize a webcam* if available, as it can be helpful when connecting across technology during this time of socially distancing.

Calls for community engagement professionals (CEPs) will focus on the community engagement needs of the entire campus community, such as how to support faculty implementing virtual engagement experiences, or working with campus administrators to adapt SLCE policy changes. Connect with your colleagues across the state to talk through what they are doing, what is working, what is needed, and the big picture for your campuses.

Calls for CEPs are scheduled from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (EDT) on the following days:

  • Friday, March 27th
  • Friday, April 17th
  • Friday, May 1st

Calls for ALL campus stakeholders will focus on a wide range of topics including how to support students, faculty, and community partners during this evolving situation. Connect with colleagues across the state to talk through issues, ideas, and resources. Community engagement professional are welcome to join this call.

Calls for any campus stakeholder are scheduled from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (EDT) on the following days:

  • Friday, March 27th
  • Friday, April 3rd
  • Friday, April 17th
  • Friday, April 24th
  • Friday, May 1st

Sign-up for the calls via the Engagement Portal. Find these opportunities under the PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, WORKSHOPS, AND TRAINING tab then click on Register for a Professional Development Opportunity.  

*If you do not have a webcam available, you can utilize the Zoom app on your mobile phone or tablet. Download the Zoom app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for free.

If you have questions, contact Laura Weaver, Director of Professional Development and Engaged Learning, at laura {at} incampuscompact(.)org.

The best way to start making contingency plans is to reach out to all community partners. Set up a time to talk through possibilities if classes are canceled and ask how it would impact their work. An overall communications plan that covers different contingencies is a great way to make sure you and partners are prepared.

Community engagement professionals and others can also support faculty in shifting their course plans. Some projects may be able to continue online or in a condensed format. Others may need to be postponed. This spreadsheet offers great resources for online teaching as faculty consider how to continue to meet educational goals in a different context for ALL students.

Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact is hosting a weekly virtual discussion on this topic every Friday at 2:30 pm central for resource-sharing, ideas, and camaraderie. Register to join here. All Campus Compact members welcome.

Community partners are very likely unable to accept in-person SLCE students during new restrictions.

We suggest you ask how your community partner’s response to the new restrictions is impacting the services they provide and consider shifting your resources to the areas where community partners most need support, even if that doesn’t align with your original goals. Flexibility and communication are key to maintaining partnerships. 

Virtual Engagement Ideas:

In some cases, students’ community-engaged work may be able to shift in ways that still meet community needs and learning outcomes. Here are a few ideas:

  • conducting background research or gathering best practices or other information requested the partner(s)
  • taping, recording, or streaming performances or workshops to benefit community partner(s)
  • creating digital and other social media content, print program materials, or other methods for information-sharing
  • undertaking assessment, evaluation, or feedback via phone or web-based services;
  • offering (or compiling, researching, or brainstorming) strategies that provide indirect support from volunteers as a result of coronavirus
  • conducting virtual or phone-based educational supports for youth and adults

If work with an existing partner is not possible, you may be able to find suitable opportunities through these channels:

As campuses consider closing or shifting classes online, low-income students will need extra support to ensure they can continue to be successful. These students may not have a place to go if dorms close, food to eat if cafeterias close, or the technology to participate in online classes. It is important to advocate for the resources these students will need. This can include:

  • Seeking philanthropic resources to provide temporary housing and food support to students
  • Setting up a resource center to connect students to community housing, food, health care, mental health support, and other resources
  • Offering loaned laptops, wifi hot-spots, and other technology resources needed for online classes
  • Adding to existing emergency funds or creating one to support students who may be impacted by job losses, school closures, and other unexpected issues

Students may also face additional mental health concerns during this time. Here are some great resources on mental health and coping with the situation.

In addition to students, campuses also have many hourly employees who would be significantly impacted by a campus closure. Advocate for them to have access to sick leave, emergency funds, and community resources as well.

Unfortunately, this public health emergency has brought out bias, discrimination, and hate in some, including racists attacks against Asian people. It’s important to proactively remind ourselves and others around us not to project fears of the virus onto marginalized groups or spread unfounded associations. People of Chinese heritage or those who look East Asian are not genetically predisposed to carry or spread the disease. It’s important to pay attention to what is happening on your campus to be able to respond quickly to any attacks or statements that may impact whether all students are welcome on your campus (here’s a great poster from the Minnesota Department of Health). There are a number of resources on responding to incidents of hate on campus, including this one from the Chronicle of Higher Education. These incidents also offer an opportunity to engage students in dialogue about racism and xenophobia. Make this a “teachable moment” in your classroom with our local and national dialogue resources.

For the vast majority of us, the greatest contribution we can make right now is to limit our movements. Be still. Stay home. Distance. Yet even staying home requires new ways of thinking. And, many of us have begun to identify ways we can be supportive of broader community in more ways than just staying home.

Campus-Community Engagement, Volunteering, and Civic Organizing  

Colleagues have already responded to this rapidly changing moment with a breadth of resources. Iowa and Minnesota Campus Compacts have stepped forward to create a continuously updated resource page particularly relevant for community-engaged and social justice educators. Their resource round up includes everything from caring for students and restructuring courses to a Virtual Volunteering Guide from Idealist, and much more. But restructuring isn’t only about considering options for online, project-based learning. It’s also being cognizant of existing relationships with community partners. 

In that spirit, Jennifer Alkezweeny, Teaching, Learning, and Engagement Associate at Portland State University, quickly pulled together this comprehensive Community Based Learning in times of Social Distancing, Isolation and Quarantine. As the resources assembled there make clear, we want to be in contact with local organizations, public officials, and partners – and there are many other needs and uncertainties we’re all working through. At The Globalsl Network, we’re returning to our series on what it means to be in partnership when travel is not possible.

That series describes how, across North America, several institutions with longstanding partnerships in Nicaragua have maintained quality and depth in those relationships despite two years of travel prohibition. Similarly, some of our colleagues involved with restorative justice and decarceration activism have raised and transferred funds to their partners on the inside. People who are imprisoned are at high risk, states aren’t investing in additional soaps or hygiene, and this move gives people stuck on the inside funds for extra sanitizing supplies at the commissary. Along with an extraordinary guide, Small Yet Significant Kindnesses in the Time of COVID-19, put together by the APPS Team at Imagining America, these two examples provide avenues for resource sharing and creative community-building in times of crisis. Just yesterday, PHENND Colleagues also summarized discussions in this vein on the HE-SL Listserve and Community Service and Service-Learning Facebook Professionals Group. We’re working to identify more resources to support our moves relating to engaged programming, while we also acknowledge we have so much more we must learn about this crisis and what it means for us.  

Critical Inquiry – COVID-19 Syllabi 

As we think about civic work, we know it requires intentional learning on the topic at hand. Academics are supporting this essential effort as well. 

Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council and Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, initiated this incredible collection of resources for the #coronavirussyllabus.

Two faculty members at Northeastern University, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Distinguished Professor of English and Co-director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, worked with Sari Altschuler, associate professor of English and associate director of the Humanities Center, to develop the Humanities Coronavirus Syllabus. 

And the broader context of global health and development efforts is also being revealed in this critical moment. In that vein, the SDG Academy has offered a series of new webinars clarifying the resources they have and how they can be integrated with existing courses.

But having good resources and a good syllabus is not enough. How will this content connect with students? The higher ed community is already doing a great deal to mobilize resources on online learning, broadly construed. At this site, we’re particularly curious about learning and social action. 

Online Social Action Coursework, Discussion Facilitation, and Humanizing 

Just this past week, the Bonner Foundation pulled together a webinar on Teaching Social Action Online, drawing on lessons learned through Harvard’s program on Public Narrative: Leadership, Storytelling, and Action featuring Marshall Ganz, Sarah ElRaheb-Dagher, and Aditi Parekh. After introductions the session kicks off at 11:45: 

That video is comforting in some ways (isn’t it great to think about Zoom as a fundamentally connecting space!?), but it can also be overwhelming. What if we don’t have time to plan all of that for our courses this week? Higher Ed’s social media sphere has gone giddy in the past few days over two pieces that address this strain in different ways. Arkansas State Assistant Professor of Sociology Rebecca Barrett Fox begs faculty, Please do a bad job of putting your courses online – for all of the most humane reasons. And with sustained emotional clarity, Brown University Associate Professor of Sociology Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve offered her students a letter on how to breathe, radically relaxed course requirements, and reoriented the online classroom as a supportive community of possibility.

It would be hard to say enough about supporting one another during the challenging transitions now and ahead. University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education Kari Kokka has put this editable Google sheet together, focused on wellness, collective care, and anti-racism:

Once we get past these first days and weeks of realignment, we may have more time to plan for online courses. Perhaps this summer term will be more online than had been planned. 

If you’re looking for resources on developing student-facilitated online, discursive classrooms, check out the Interactivity Foundation Guidebook for Student-Facilitated Discussions in Online Courses, Instructor Edition and Student Edition (disclaimer: my wife is one of the authors). There’s also an extraordinary resource, Humanizing Online Teaching By Drs. Mary Raygoza,  Raina León, and Aaminah Norris of Saint Mary’s College of California. 

And, I’m sorry – I said it in the paragraph above, “perhaps this summer.” We are all working to get our minds around a reality that seemed fantastical just a few days ago – this is not about the two week suspension of normal we started with. This is a long haul.  

 Nurture Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community for the Long Haul 

There’s so much unknown. That’s stressful. As you think about what you and your loved ones need, understand that it’s likely that we’re in a marathon – that your two-week hiatus from schools and businesses may be extended if it hasn’t been already. Stay in touch with loved ones, friends, and therapists or colleagues, online. Consult mental health resources. And be sure you’re getting nourishing time everyday, away from news, whether through meditation, walks alone, reading fiction, or whatever can nourish you. It’s important that we’re strengthening our centeredness because prolonged uncertainty is not easy for anyone. 

Make Time to “Do Nothing.” Consider other projects and inquiries. Listen to favorite music. Read poetry. Consider taking one of the 450 Ivy League Courses You can Take Online Now for Free.  Reflect on this art and text, originally created in Spanish by Miguel Brieva, Translated by Guerrilla Translation.

Original art and text (in Spanish) by Miguel Brieva
Translated by Guerrilla Translation
#Degrowth, #Commons #Environment

You can do this. We can do this. We’ll keep learning more, sharing more, and gathering online together. 

The Globalsl Network will soon announce upcoming webinars among institutions realigning summer global learning and considering other critical community engagement questions in the time of COVID-19, along with upcoming webinar collaborations with Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, Imagining America, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, among others. 

This coming fall, Globalsl will host a Community-based Global Learning 101 on October 1, 2020, in Philadelphia, immediately preceding the October 2 – 3  Conference of the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PACIE). Save the Dates or make a proposal for the PACIE Conference.

  • update-img-new

    Get updates on what's new in the Campus Compact Network