|Final Reflection for Impact: The Power of Collective Work
by Gerald Eisman
After 2 Ĺ years as the first CSU Service-Learning Faculty Scholar, I will soon be returning to my home campus, San Francisco State. I will be the Acting Director of SFSUís Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, and I am thrilled to be able to continue this work albeit at a more local level. My, how time flies.
This transition provides a good opportunity for a brief reflection on what I have found to be the most rewarding aspects of working in the capacity of Scholar at the Chancellorís Office. Without question the most important lesson I have learned is the power of collective work. By this I am referring to the synergy that arises when we pool our resources across the CSU.
Sometimes working at the CO can feel a little removed and a little bureaucratic, tracking the progress of programs across campuses and over time. But more often, the work we do surrounds an initiative to take things into a new direction or to make existing programs better. And when we put the word out to our colleagues at the campus service-learning offices and to our service-learning practitioners, thatís when the real magic occurs!
Across the CSU there is a myriad of exemplary service-learning projects that are playing significant roles in addressing critical issues- increasing access to higher education for underserved groups or producing more math and science teachers or addressing the growing level of obesity or preparing for natural disasters. Individual campuses have their own distinction, and yet by pulling these together we create visibility to the collective effort that exceeds the sum of the individual parts Ė synergy at its best. And from this can come grant proposals, publicity, conferences, monographs, and more.
In my role, I have tapped into this collective resource many times. When I visit campuses to talk about service learning with faculty, I will pepper my presentations with examples from around the CSU. Just last week at CSU Los Angeles I found myself telling Sociology faculty about a community survey program at Sacramento, Kinesiology faculty about an after school exercise program at Fullerton, Philosophy faculty about a program with terminally-ill patients in San Francisco, and so on. The lesson is that though sometimes we may feel that we labor in isolation on our campus or in our department, that if we look around at what is going on systemwide, itís often an entirely different story, one of great potential to make a difference for the communities that we serve.
In January, my good colleague and friend from CSU Fresno, Dr. Richard Berrett, will become the next Faculty Scholar. Rich shares our passion for this work and brings tremendous skills at working with groups so that they are better at engaging with each other. I am sure that he too will utilize our SL network to give greater visibility to our collective work.
As for me, I am heading home, taking with me an extensive email list of faculty around the CSU doing good work. Itís my greatest treasure!