Taking community engagement on the road
Annual Roads Scholars tour spurs new conversations, collaborations
A two-day bus trip earlier this month connected more than 70 Ohio State University faculty, staff and students with community partners around central Ohio.
The Roads Scholars Tour visited a diverse set of nine stops on June 18-19, traveling in a figurative “Block O” starting at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and ending with a service project at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
“Our engagement in Ohio is deeper and more expansive than most people are aware,” said Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement Ryan Schmiesing. “From food production to food distribution and from the test track to the highway, our faculty, staff and students engage in deep and lasting partnerships to positively impact individuals and communities.”
After the initial stop at the Byrd center and a sendoff from President Michael V. Drake, the tour headed on day one to the Honda Heritage Center in Marysville, Bun’s Restaurant in Delaware, Ariel Corporation in Mt. Vernon, the Newark Earthworks and, finally, Ohio State Newark. For participants, it was an opportunity to expand beyond their day-to-day world.
“I was able to experience the tour as an adult learner,” said Jennifer Rodis, assistant dean and professor in the College of Pharmacy. “This tour gave me the chance to get exposed to people across the university and our communities. I also learned about different areas that I don’t necessarily get the chance to delve into in my everyday work.”
On day two, the tour visited community-university partnerships at David Brandt Farm in Carroll, Fayette County Memorial Hospital in Washington Court House and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Grove City, where the group spent the afternoon volunteering.
In addition to a better understanding of how Ohio State collaborates with partners throughout the state, another benefit for participants is the opportunity to engage with others across the university to build future collaborations.
“Having our faculty and staff actually see the impact that Ohio State has on the state of Ohio and vice versa is just essential,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron. “Year over year, we see faculty who experience this have a very different approach to the work that they are doing, whether it is science or art or humanities. They are thinking a little differently about their relationship as a university representative with our citizens of Ohio.”
“One of the best parts of the experience is having a good amount of time to spend with my colleagues,” said Darrick Hamilton, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. “I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to literally sit with colleagues on the bus whom I don’t usually interact with, and that will spur relationships and conversations and collaborations that I would have had no way of imagining beforehand.”
See more tour highlights at #OSUontheroad on Twitter.