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Ohio State's outreach efforts gain national recognition

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio State University has won recognition by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for both community outreach efforts and for community-engaged curricula. The university is one of 68 public and 51 private institutions selected for the Carnegie Foundation's 2008 "Curricular Engagement and Outreach & Partnerships" classification.

The 15 Ohio State outreach initiatives in the foundation's recognition include collaborations with community partners, businesses, other universities, and other nations.

"This recognition from the Carnegie Foundation underscores Ohio State's profound commitment to meeting the needs of people throughout Ohio and around the world," said university President E. Gordon Gee. "Reaching out and improving communities is a proud part of our land-grant heritage. It is fully imbedded in our mission, our curriculum, and our daily lives."

Ohio State defines "outreach and engagement" as meaningful and mutually beneficial collaborations with partners outside the academic community. From programs that provide dental screenings for underserved youth, to training for teachers in Ohio and Haiti, and myriad other initiatives, outreach and partnership are woven into every aspect of teaching, research and service at Ohio State.

One example is Ohio State's Service-Learning Initiative, which supports the development of courses that integrate community service into curricular activities. Ohio State offers 64 service-learning courses in 30 academic departments that enable students to learn beyond campus walls.

"I believe the key principle that drives our outreach efforts is the desire to give back to our communities," said Joyce Beatty, Ohio State's new senior vice president for outreach and engagement. "The passion and dedication of the Ohio State family – working as one university – allow us to reach beyond the university's borders and make positive contributions to peoples' lives. This honor is well-deserved and will inspire our ongoing efforts to better our communities and our world."

The Carnegie Foundation is known best for its classification of higher education institutions based on the kinds of degree programs offered and the extent of graduate and research programs. The community engagement classification is a new effort by the foundation to set criteria that could be met by research universities, liberal arts colleges and community colleges.

The foundation invited colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement to apply for the recognition. Applicants submitted documentation describing community engagement efforts that showed alignment with mission, culture, and leadership resources and practices.

In its application, Ohio State cited 15 outreach partnerships as examples of its commitment to communities. (The Outreach page of Ohio State's website gives a bigger picture of the depth and breadth of community engagement.)

•Urban Revitalization – This comprehensive approach to the revitalization of the diverse urban neighborhoods known as the University District involves community planning, neighborhood partnerships, and strategic projects that remove barriers to market-based revitalization. This project was the 2008 North Central Region Winner for the 2008 Outreach Scholarship W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award, which recognizes exemplary outreach and engagement partnerships implemented by four-year public universities. Learn more

•Honda-OSU Partnership – More than 1,000 students have benefited from programs through the partnership with Honda. Students of all ages are targeted with activities including an on-campus engineering awareness program for high school students; summer intern programs for students from historically black universities; a mentoring program to enhance engineering awareness in underrepresented groups in middle and high schools; the Math Medal program for high school students in central Ohio; and education and collaboration for engineers in the workplace to advance the American automotive industry. This project is ranked among the top five university-industry by Business Facilities Magazine. Learn more

•Sugar Creek Watershed Initiative – To deal with issues revolving around Ohio's second most polluted watershed, Ohio State researchers worked with local farmers and a local business to develop improvements. The initiative has seen nitrate and phosphorus levels drop significantly while creating new jobs and demand for milk. In addition, Ohio State students are raising awareness of watershed ecology in local schools. Learn more

•Engaged Partners – Multiple collaborations were harnessed to establish a public/private partnership model supporting lab schools covering infancy through 12th grade. Partners include the Metro School, the Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy at Ohio State, and the Schoenbaum Family Center and Weinland Park Elementary School at Weinland Park, an economically challenged area east of campus. Learn more

•OHIO Project (Oral Health Improvement through Outreach) – To improve access to dental care for underserved populations, and provide experience for future dentists, dental students work in community sites providing oral health care to minority high school students, and the Dental H.O.M.E. (Health Outreach Mobile Experience) Coach, which takes dental care directly to students in Columbus City Schools. Learn more

•Urban Arts Space - The OSU Urban Arts Space is a new 10,000 square foot gallery in the historic Lazarus Building in downtown Columbus. The space is an artistic incubator that serves as a launching pad for students and a bridge between the university and central Ohio community. Learn more

•Adventure Central – Working with Five Rivers MetroParks in Dayton, the initiative has reached more than 250 urban youth traditionally underserved by park districts. The program offers youth development education and leadership skills using an environmental foundation in a welcoming, safe, fun, active setting that uses volunteers and community resources with adult and youth interaction.
Learn more

•OSU Endeavor Center for Business Incubation and Training Center – This mixed-use business incubator and training center is designed to stimulate economic development in the Appalachian counties of southern Ohio. The business partners of the Endeavor Center have created over 190 new, high-skill, high-tech, high-wage jobs, adding over $8 million to the local economy. Learn more

•Wonders of Our World – This interactive science education program is serving several elementary schools in the Columbus, Ohio area. WOW staff develops hands-on experiments presented by Ohio State students as well as industry and parent volunteers that are designed to increase both students' knowledge and interest in science at a young age. Nearly 2,500 K-5 students and more than 100 elementary school teachers were involved in the program in 2007. This program has reached over 10,000 K-5 students since inception. Learn more

•COSI-OSU Partnership – Ohio State academic departments, along with WOSU Public Media, collaborate to support the museum's mission. Two programs are housed at COSI: WOSU@COSI which includes WOSU radio and TV studio facilities; and the Center for Family Research, a multi-college research, assessment, and treatment initiative, housed in COSI offices. In addition, several researchers use COSI as a data collection site.

•Connecting Rural Ohio – This program extends broadband Internet access to geographically remote and underserved Ohio Appalachian communities through satellite and ground-based Internet "last mile" wired and wireless solutions. Learn more

•Education Outreach at Ohio State Lima – Ohio State's Lima Campus offers a slate of high-quality programming for K-12 schools and families, developed in partnership with community agencies. Programs, which are aligned to Ohio K-12 benchmarks, include Starlab Portable Planetarium; The Many Hats and Many Puppets of Agriculture; Inquiry; Scientists and the Environment; Give Me Five, a multi-pronged approach to prevent childhood obesity; and Physics with Kids. Learn more

•Haiti Empowerment Project: Building a Stronger Educational System through Collaborations – Ohio State faculty and students travel to Haiti three times a year for 10-day stints to work with teachers and students in classrooms, focusing primarily on two schools: Benito Elementary School and Faith Elementary School. Faculty also teach intensive teacher training courses at partner universities in Haiti. Learn more

•Partner for Promotion (PFP) – This partnership pairs fourth-year pharmacy students with community pharmacists to develop patient education materials, health screenings and other services. All 28 pharmacies developed and more than half continue to provide innovative patient care services, conducting over 1,400 patient visits. Learn more

•Arts and Sciences Community Partnerships Office – This office develops strategic partnerships among community organizations and faculty, staff, and students in Ohio State's Arts and Sciences to address issues of importance in Ohio and in some cases, around the world. An example is the Columbus Teaching Academy, a one-year program designed for high school seniors considering a career in education. Last year, 300 middle-school students from seven districts visited seven campus sites. Learn more

The application also described these examples of curricular engagement through service-learning courses and other activities:
•Student Research – Students in the geography course, "Elements of Cartography," collect community data and design maps that explain a community issue, spatial process, or geographic phenomenon; meet with the community partner to learn about the community; and talk with community members about the use of the maps as a community asset.

•Student Leadership – Students in an education policy and leadership course learn about leadership styles and challenge the concept of leadership as being tied to a role or position, while examining the perspective that everyone can lead by using different assets. Fisher College MBA students are trained to serve on nonprofit boards as "Fisher Board Fellows." Learn more

•Internships/Co-ops – Students enrolled in the five colleges of the Arts and Sciences participate in a wide variety of internships with public and nonprofit organizations, including the Columbus Museum of Art, Marion Correctional Institute, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the Community Shelter Board. During the past academic year, 74 students enrolled in these internships. The Mansfield campus's Community Service Work-Study program partners 46 students with 38 local nonprofit agencies, which include art centers, nature centers, municipal offices, and public schools.

•Study Abroad – A service-learning course in Engineering prepares students for a week of service at an orphanage in Honduras. The course focuses on cultural awareness, problem solving, and application of knowledge across the fields of Engineering and helps students create and evaluate their project ideas for an entire quarter prior to the service activity. Students in Spanish participate in service-learning projects in schools, clinics, and other venues in Quito, Ecuador, and Cuernavaca, Mexico.

•First Year Sequence – Colleges of the Arts and Sciences Freshman Seminars involve faculty from 44 departments, encompassing 16 colleges and schools across the university. A recent offering is "Why Should I Care?: Rewards and Challenges of Community Service."

•Capstone – For the capstone experience in Engineering, students partner with an area school to research and develop a system for recharging solar-powered vehicles. In the Political Science capstone course in public policy, students undertake public policy research projects in cooperation with community partners that have included the City of Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

•Majors – Community engagement is embedded in multiple undergraduate theatre and MFA courses. A tenet of the Acting curriculum is that community engagement is an obligation of the theatre. Theatre artists are charged with not just a passive performance relationship with the audience watching in a darkened theatre, but an active involvement, such as developing new work in community partnership, using theatre to explore controversial issues, or seeing theatre as an educational tool.

To learn more about the 2008 Community Engagement Classification, go to http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/. Visit Ohio State's Outreach and Engagement page for information on the university's outreach and engagement enterprise.