Community engagement courses can get designation

group staining wooden bridge
Students majoring in hospitality and tourism management work with industry professionals to restore historic sites in Roscommon. The Michigan Cares for Tourism initiative is an example of a course with community engagement components.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

For the first time this semester, faculty members teaching courses with community engagement components can apply to have those courses so listed in Banner, making it easier for students to find them.

The Community-Based Learning designation also provides an avenue for tracking and assessing courses, according to Robert Adams, chair of the University Curriculum Committee and associate professor of computing and information systems.

Adams said the CBL designation will be similar to Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS), allowing courses to be identified during registration and on transcripts.

Lisa Sisson, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, is teaching an advanced food and beverage management course that would fit CBL requirements. Students in the course are working on a project with the nutrition department at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, finding ways to reduce food costs through reduced waste and increased food recovery.

Sisson said the HTM department was among the first to participate in the Engaged Department Initiative, an effort supported by the Office of Community Engagement to scaffold community engagement into courses.

"The same food and beverage course previously had no community partner," she said. 

In her course, students are working and networking with Spectrum Health's nutrition services staff and will give presentations to the hospital's leadership team at the end of the semester, Sisson said.

"It's exciting for them to learn and consider other kinds of food service operations by introducing them to the nonprofit side," she said.

Sisson added many employers are looking for skills taught in community-engaged courses, like teamwork, critical thinking and communications.

Sisson and other faculty members are leading workshops throughout the winter semester on community engaged research and creative practice. Faculty members interested in learning more about community-engaged courses can contact Patty Bolea at [email protected] or Travus Burton at [email protected].