Vision of Collaboration and Partnership
Excelsior College’s vision of being a model higher education institute of the 21st century includes being an important academic collaborator and a valuable partner in addressing societal and workforce needs. It meets students where they are—academically and geographically, offering instruction and the assessment of learning to over 38,000 currently enrolled students. Likewise, it only makes sense that it also extends its long reach to engage in community stewardship by leveraging technology and engaging with its community partners and over 163,500 graduates.
While students, faculty, and administrators are dispersed geographically, there are endless opportunities to come together to address complex societal and community challenges. One example of a recent community outreach initiative involved convening a panel to discuss— Strengthening Communities by Bridging Health and Economic Development. This event brought together policy-makers, economists, public health professionals, urban planners and researchers to discuss local and national strategies that integrate health and economic development to address public health issues and revitalize communities.
This face-to-face event was recorded to engage a broader audience so that communities across the country can engage in dialog about optimizing their built environments to enhance the health of their local communities. Other ways distance educators can leverage their long-reach to address community challenges includes:
- making community stewardship a very clear and focused part of their mission and strategic vision;
- encouraging the scholarship of community engagement among students and faculty;
- engaging in collaborative and reciprocal partnerships with other organizations and institutions;
- hosting webinars for students, faculty and decision makers based on topics trending regionally, nationally and internationally;
- incorporating course projects that require students to engage and partner with community stakeholders to address local community issues;
- creating virtual internship opportunities for students to work with organizations with a community-centric and humanitarian mission; and
- sustaining a culture of engagement.
Many believe that institutions of higher education have a moral obligation to use resources in the form of human capital, research, evaluation and prestige to take part in developing and implementing strategies that uplift communities. Distance educators are not exempt and are considered key stakeholders with a vested interest in embracing a stewardship role in local and global communities. Our long-reach maximizes our impact across geographic boarders, that at times limit traditional institutions with the best of intentions.