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Center for Civic Engagement

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Fall 2019

Emerging Opportunities

As you may know, Washington State University (WSU) is currently in the midst of strategic planning with a renewed emphasis on the land-grant mission. The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) is ready to play its part in connecting students and faculty with their local communities for the benefit of all involved. We see the community engagement at the center of the land grant mission, and have recently reconvened the WSU Community Engagement Network to bring together and support faculty and staff from across the WSU system.

This summer, our Student Affairs colleagues recognized the CCE for our collaboration with Academic Affairs supporting over 50 faculty annually to incorporate community engagement into coursework to enhance student learning. We are honored to receive this recognition, especially since this work also increases student success and meets the needs of the community. With new energy and ideas emerging, we are excited to provide support and expertise needed to institutionalize community engagement throughout the WSU system as the CCE transitions into our next 25 years!

Ben Calabretta & Tiffanie Braun

CCE Interim Co-Directors

CCE staff getting an award

Transformative Learning Experiences

Throughout the Fall 2019 semester, the Center for Civic Engagement at Washington State University facilitated academic service learning experiences for 2691 undergraduate students, taught by 47 faculty from 8 colleges across the Pullman, Tri Cities, Vancouver, and Global campuses. Service learning prepares students to be active participants in the community, address important societal inequities and issues affecting communities locally and globally, and connect more deeply with their course content (Nuangchalerm, 2014). Students in service learning courses have a greater sense of self-efficacy, increased confidence, and find greater meaning in their course material. According to Rose, Thomas, Christian, Morris and Sego (2019), service learning has a dynamic impact on students’ sense of self efficacy because it provides the student opportunities for real-life engagement, reciprocal engagement, and reflection. There were multiple exceptional transformative learning experiences that took place this fall including, but not limited to, the projects described below:

  • Traci Gillig, Murrow College of Communication Assistant Professor, and students in COMSOC 326, Organizing for Social Change, partnered with the Latah Alliance on Mental Illness (LAMI) this fall. Teams of students worked with LAMI and applied course concepts to address the agency’s needs, including event planning, mental health awareness campaigns, food drives, and fundraising materials. The students maintained close communication with agency representatives and developed reciprocal relationships through their collaborative work. Madelyn Solly-Tanner, WSU Junior, said, “I learned more about organizations in Pullman and Moscow that I would have not learned about otherwise. The project taught me how Public Relations is used in real life, and gave me some experience working with a client, creating content, and organizing events.” Sophie Gross, WSU Junior, cited her participation in the service learning project as having a direct influence on her professional goals after graduation. “This made me very much more interested in working for a nonprofit in the future. It also reaffirmed my belief that I too can make a change within any community I am a part of.”
  • The Center for Civic Engagement supports service learning and community engagement initiatives of Global Campus students. In Fall 2019, the CCE supported 211 global students in 8 global courses - the highest number of global courses the CCE has supported in a single semester. The CCE helps Global students navigate GivePulse and identify local community engagement opportunities wherever they are. Faculty receive support integrating service learning into their syllabus and curriculum, tracking and reporting service learning participation, and designing meaningful reflection assignments. Throughout Summer 2019, 95 global students participated in service learning experiences. Nyan Hartman, WSU Global student, stated that in addition to practical experience, participating in a Global Campus service learning course has given her a firsthand look at concepts she has learned about in courses, including how difficult economic situations affect families.  According to Hervani, Helms, Rutti, LaBonte, Sarkarat (2015), integrating service learning into global courses supports students’ connection and sense of belonging within their communities, maintains an interactive classroom environment, and enhances teamwork and communication skills. Service learning with the Global Campus is an example of WSU’s systemwide commitment to applying knowledge that will contribute to improving the quality of life and enhancing the state, national, and global economy.
students holding sign that says "end the stigma"

Collaborative Discovery:

GivePulse empowers active citizenship by connecting students, staff and faculty with community engagement opportunities locally, system-wide, and globally, and also provides undergraduate students seamless access to opportunities to participate in the research process. The Human Development (HD) department is currently in the pilot phase of using GivePulse to offer students opportunities to participate in research projects on the Pullman and Vancouver campuses. Caitlin Fitzpatrick, Psychology undergraduate and research participant stated, “I think these experiments are beneficial for WSU undergraduate students because it may spark an interest in research as a career goal as well as provide a further understanding for what research in this field looks like.” After being a participant in a research study, Caitlin was inspired to learn more! Caitlin joined Dr. Sammy Perone’s Lab for the Developing Mind as an Undergraduate Research Assistant, and is now helping launch the next phase of the study in the spring.

GivePulse provides students a convenient place to review a current menu of HD department studies, read a description of the research project, goals, and choose a research project to participate in. In addition to supporting undergraduate, graduate, and faculty collaboration within communities, this platform provides an avenue for scientific alliance among faculty and students which can lead to meaningful mentorship opportunities and supporting students’ creative and critical thinking.

students in lab

Innovative Partnerships

Digital Technologies and Culture (DTC) instructor and Assistant Director Ruth Gregory and Tor de Vries, Instructor, cultivated six unique partnerships this fall with United Way of Whitman County, Sojourners Alliance, White Spring Ranch, iBelieve of the Palouse, Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation, and Lincoln Middle School Booster Club in DTC 478: Website Design and Interface and DTC 497: Senior Capstonehese dynamic service learning partnerships provided a platform for the students to learn how to work within design teams, improve their abilities to handle ambiguity and frequent change, and establish the foundations for professional networks. DTC highlighted their engaged faculty and service learning projects facilitated by the Center for Civic Engagement in a recent DTC news article.

  • Tor de Vries and the DTC 478 students met with the agencies multiple times to listen and learn about the community partners’ missions and social media needs resulting in a website design plan based on the skills and concepts they were learning in the course. Overall, agencies expressed they needed the websites to tell their story, link to their social media accounts, solicit donations, showcase their mission, and enhance their brand. The students maintained ongoing communication with the community partners and completed background research throughout the semester to ensure their clients’ feedback were represented in the website. In addition, community partners also received a written report explaining various technical aspects of the site. 
  • Ruth Gregory and DTC 497 students, created promotional materials and provided multimedia support for United Way of Whitman County, formerly known as United Way of Pullman. This partnership came at a critical time for United Way of Whitman County due to the recent name change of the agency. The students designed social media posts and fliers, took new photos of the Whitman County community for a video advertisement, and planned a search engine optimization strategy. United Way of Whitman County plans to implement these materials in their upcoming fundraising campaigns.
students after presentation


Pullman School District (PSD) has been an active community partner of the CCE for over twenty-five years, and was also highlighted in The Engaged Scholar Spring 2019 Issue. This Fall, there were multiple exceptional projects for shared benefit between PSD and WSU. The WSU student experience is elevated by connecting with young people, educators, and administrators of PSD. Bob Maxwell, Ed.D, PSD Superintendent stated, “Pullman School District’s partnership with various groups and departments at Washington State University shows the commitment of each organization to benefit our community as a whole. Our teamwork and collaboration directly benefit the staff and students of both organizations and fosters lifelong learning, support and giving. I am proud of the work we have accomplished together and amazed by the new initiatives generated each year.  This is just one of the great things that makes Pullman special.” There were multiple exceptional service learning course projects that took place in the during the Fall 2019 semester including not limited to the projects described below:

  • Ben Pingle, Assistant Professor in Murrow College of Communication, and the COMSTRAT 383 students produced materials for the PSD bond and levy vote and new strategic plan. Students began this project by identifying key messages and campaign branding. After performing a communication analysis of the school district, they divided into teams to begin producing materials. With ongoing feedback from the school district, students designed flyers, brochures, radio spots, 2-minute informational videos, video snippets, social media campaigns, posters, rack cards, and several other materials. Bob Maxell, Superintendent, and Shannon Focht, Communications Coordinator, visited the class multiple times to interact with the students, assess their progress, help guide the key messages, and make sure the materials met the district’s needs.
  • Katy Kraszewska, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, and Landscape Architectural Design 262 students produced multiple design plans and associated illustrations for playgrounds and inclusive learning environments at Kamiak Elementary, Pullman's newest elementary school. They presented their work to the school's students, faculty, administration, and parents on Dec. 6th at Kamiak Elementary.
  • Joe Hedges, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and the students in Fine Arts 321 Intermediate Painting and Fine Arts 423 Advanced Painting installed two murals at Kamiak Elementary this fall. The design and planning of the murals were a collaborative effort of faculty and students in the College of Arts and Science including Dr. Amy Nielsen, Jeimei Lin, Kelsey Baker, and Aaron Hendricksen. The interdisciplinary team is an outstanding example of the intersection of art and science. The chemical composition of the thermochromic paint, which changes color based on the temperature, was identified and incorporated into the first mural’s geometric design. The second mural the students installed this fall was a kestrel bird (school mascot) nestled in flowers. This is the second mural project at a Pullman elementary school that Joe has been a major contributor to.
  • Anthony Eddy, WSU Cougar Tutors Coordinator, and Ruby Wade, Human Development Intern, coordinated the Cougar Tutors program at all four of the Pullman elementary schools this semester. 150 WSU students tutored elementary students from 7:30am-8:20am Monday through Thursday. Antony stated that the WSU students “were able to get a glimpse at what teaching elementary students is like and build positive relationships along the way.”
  • Franklin Elementary STEAM family night, led by the WSU Center for Civic Engagement engaged more than 250 people in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Science activities. More than 130 youth, 80 adults, and nearly 40 WSU students participated in the event, which was in collaboration with the Palouse STEAM Coalition, Ask Dr. Universe, and Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL).

CCE Faculty Fellows Highlights

Dr. Sam Gizerian will be teaching the NEUROSCI 490 capstone as a service learning course in Spring 2020. Dr. Gizerian will continue to host the Kids Judge! annual event with her students. The Kids Judge! program invites 5th graders from elementary schools come to WSU’s Pullman Campus for the to evaluate WSU student exhibits that demonstrate how the brain and nervous system function. This unique flip-flop of roles is designed to make scientists better communicators and to interest elementary school students in science.

Cassandra Gulam integrates service learning into Spanish 362, Spanish for Health Professions. The students partner with local free health clinics and assist with translation for patients. Low-cost and safety-net medical facilities in the Vancouver area provide services to thousands of residents each year.  Many patients and/or their families are Spanish speakers with varying degrees of English fluency.  To help these facilities provide the best medical care possible, interpreters – often volunteers – are essential. This service learning project provides an avenue for students to utilize general cultural knowledge appropriately without engaging stereotypes, to leverage and develop knowledge of the Spanish language and of Latin American cultures in order to help deliver quality, dignified medical care to vulnerable members of our community in a clinical setting, and to engage in the role of the competent, culturally-sensitive interpreter in providing care and increasing access to services.

Dr. Michael Berger, WSU Vancouver, presented a poster in June 2019 titled “Service Learning in the Sciences: Student perception before and after working with a community partner” at the Association for Biology Laboratory Education 2019 annual meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) awarded Michael grant funds to support travel to the conference. The poster was based on pre- and post-assessment data from a service learning component in General Biology (Biol 102) taught in the Vancouver campus. This fall semester, 28 undergraduate students enrolled in SOE 110: The Environment, Human Life, and Sustainability on the Vancouver campus participated in a service learning assignment. Students engaged in 123.5 hours of environmentally focused service learning with multiple community partners in SW Washington area, such as the City of Vancouver, Columbia Springs Environmental Center, and Friends of Trees. Michael was recently featured in The VanCougar Magazine for his service learning initiatives.

Dr. Barbara Richardson, Director of Interprofessional Education & Research at WSU Health Sciences, incorporates service learning in Foundations of Medical Science 502 and 503. Students engaged in more than 700 hours of community engagement in Spring 2019. The WSU Health Sciences campus community engagement team hosted the first Community Engagement Campus Symposium in April 2019 where the medical students, speech and hearing sciences students, and pharmacy students all offered presentations.

Dr. Janet Peters, WSU Tri Cities, included a service learning component to PSYCH 308 Organizational Psychology. Throughout the semester, students participated in service learning at a local non-profit organization, conducting case studies, and applying concepts from class to the organization. At the end of the semester, their learning culminated in a small campus presentation.

Engagement News

Campus Compact 2020 Conference is the largest and most inclusive national conference focused on the role of higher education in building democracy and healthy communities. The conference will be March 29-April 1, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.

2020 Campus Community Forum hosted by the WSU Center for Civic Engagement, University of Idaho (UI) Center for Teaching and Excellence, and UI Center for Volunteerism and Social Action will collaboratively host the annual event on April 7, 2020 at the Student Union.

Community Engagement Institute brings together faculty, staff, and community experts working in authentic partnerships with the goal of sharing knowledge gained through community engaged research, teaching, and relationships. Faculty, community engagement professionals, and community partners are invited to submit proposals to present at the 2020 Inland Northwest Community Engagement Institute (CEI). The conference will take place May 27-28, 2020 and proposals are due by February 1, 2020 by midnight.

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting will be June 3-6, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN. AASCU's American Democracy Project (ADP) and NASPA are committed to advancing the civic engagement movement in higher education. Proposals are due by January 31, 2020.

WSU is now a member institution of The Research University Civic Engagement Network (TRUCEN). TRUCEN provides members with opportunities to share knowledge and strategies related to how their institutions are promoting engagement on their campuses and in their communities.

Dr. Paul Verrel, Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and CCE Advisory Committee Member was highlighted in the Daily Evergreen for his tireless efforts towards student success over his 25 years at WSU. 

Rebecca Cooney, Clinical Assistant Professor in The Murrow College of Communication, was highlighted in the Moscow Pullman Daily News for her service learning partnership with the Whitman County Health Department.

Ariel Medeiros, CCE Palouse Fresh Food Project Student Coordinator, received an award for her contributions to the Ladow Food Pantry and dedication to supporting the mission to help those who are experiencing food insecurity.

Community Grounded Graduate Students (CGGS) initiative was established by the Center for Civic Engagement to provide intentional support to graduate students and faculty to increase engagement in the local Palouse community and beyond.  We envision graduate students fostering meaningful connections and engagement between campus and communities to effect positive change in society, as well as fostering personal, professional, and academic benefits within graduate students. In addition, we hope to support graduate students in their community engagement efforts so they will be prepared to be engaged scholars as faculty and professionals in the future.

The CCE Campus Connection November issue is now available. The Campus Connection is your way to stay up to date with the latest community engagement news at Washington State University. Check out the July and September issues of the CCE Campus Connection.


Hervani, A. A., Helms, M. M., Rutti, R. M., LaBonte, J., & Sarkarat, S. (2015). Service Learning Projects in Online Courses: Delivery Strategies. Journal of Learning in Higher Education11(1), 35–41.

Nuangchalerm, P. (2014). Self-Efficacy and Civic Engagement in Undergraduate ... Retrieved from

Rose, S., Thomas, J., Christian, S., Morris, D., & Sego, A. (2019, November 6). An Examination of Service Learning and Self-Efficacy for Masters Students Engaging in Substance Use Education. Retrieved from