Macon and Atlanta- In conjunction with Mercer President R. Kirby Godsey's creation of a new task force on Civic Engagement, the Mercer Center for Community Development and University Commons are hosting a lecture for students, faculty and staff titled "Why Civic Engagement? Why Now?"
Rick Battistoni, Ph.D., a leader in the field of community service learning and a professor of political science at Providence College in Rhode Island, will give presentations on both the Atlanta and Macon campuses. He will speak at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 3, on the Atlanta campus in the Trustees Dining Room and at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 4, in Newton Chapel on the Macon campus. Battistoni will discuss ways professors and students can implement more service learning into the curriculum.
"Mercer has actively worked with the community for a long time," said Jean Fallis, Ph.D., volunteer coordinator for Mercer's University Commons. "The University now is focusing its attention on increasing engagement in communities surrounding Mercer."
She thinks Mercer will enjoy hearing about Battistoni's experiences.
He served as director of the Feinstein Institute for Public Service at Providence College from 1994 to 2000 and also developed directed service-learning efforts at Rutgers and Baylor Universities. Battistoni is currently director of Project 540, a national high school civic engagement initiative funded by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
"Civic Engagement is intrinsically tied to the mission of the University," said Maria Arvelo, program manager for the Mercer Center for Community Development. "We hope this lecture and the establishment of the task force will bring increased awareness of Mercer's commitment to its surrounding community and our civic engagement initiative."
President Godsey appointed faculty, staff and student representatives from across the University to a new task force devoted to civic engagement and service learning. The group met for the first time on Feb. 21 for a daylong retreat in which they discussed the institutional impact of civic engagement at Mercer. The task force will continue to meet throughout the year and offer a series of workshops and colloquia for faculty, staff and students.
"The task force is a great way to combine our energy and share ideas on how to engage in our community," Fallis said. "A learning practice from one area can really illuminate another area."