Connecting Change Makers: DU Faculty, Staff and Students Share Out their Community-Engaged Work

Written By: Katie Vega, Scholar Shop Program Coordinator, CCESL

Faculty and students at the University of Denver (DU) have hit the ground running with their community-engaged research and scholarship this year! In partnership with Casa de Paz, a transitional facility for recently released migrants, a cluster of faculty focused on immigration is teaching community-engaged courses that provide an opportunity for students to learn about and support the organization. Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) faculty member Dr. Kim Bender and her student team are analyzing data from people experiencing homelessness in collaboration with REALYST to identify differences and similarities across cities and communities. REALYST is a national collaborative of academic and community partners aimed at ending homelessness and housing instability among young people. While the examples of community-engaged work at DU are plentiful, the innovative ways that faculty, students, and staff are sharing out this work continues to evolve.

Now, what do these efforts have in common, besides being incredible examples of community-engaged teaching and learning? Many of the faculty and students involved in these efforts are part of the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning’s (CCESL) Fellows Program. This year’s cohort includes 18 faculty and staff and 11 undergraduate and graduate students who are actively facilitating cross-disciplinary collaborations that deepen the impact of community-university collaboration in specific issue areas including Meeting Basic Needs, Health Equity, Refugees, Gentrification, and Immigration.

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While community-engaged work is not new to DU, Fellows are exploring new and innovative methods to share their work with campus and community audiences. For example, CCESL’s former Writing and the Public Good Student Fellow and Literary Studies PhD student, Alison Turner, has created a collaborative podcast with Professor Blake Sanz at the DU Writing Program titled When you are homeless. Stemming from their work at two of the DU Writing Center’s off-site locations, the St. Francis Center and The Gathering Place, Sanz and Turner interviewed eight people experiencing homelessness and discussed themes emerging from those conversations. You can listen to the podcast episodes on SoundCloud, and subscribe by hitting “follow”. To learn more about their work, please visit their website:

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Arts and Engagement Student Fellow Allie Eliot is working closely this year with Faculty Fellow Dr. Ashley Hamilton, Director of the DU Prison Arts Initiative (DU PAI) to raise of the team’s work and impact. DU PAI generates creative and collaborative learning experiences that enrich the lives of incarcerated people and shift the conversation about prison. Through their new podcast With(in), they are shifting the conversation on who is in prison, specifically within the Colorado Department of Corrections, through meaningful, complex and enlightening conversations with incarcerated people in Colorado and others in and around the system. In addition to taking their first prison production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” on a statewide tour (read more here) the team is gearing up for a second play, “A Christmas Carol” with the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility. Listen to the podcast and learn more about upcoming performances by visiting DU PAI’s website.

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In addition to podcasts and plays, Student Fellows across all of CCESL’s issues areas are sharing their complex and ever-evolving community-engaged work through blogs. Thanks to blog writing workshops led by DU’s Writing Center, Student Fellows were able to give us a glimpse into their development and research as community-engaged scholars and share their work online here. This year’s CCESL Student Fellows will be posting blogs again in Winter quarter so please stay tuned for updates!

CCESL is excited to learn about and support faculty, staff, and students who are engaging in community-engaged scholarship and teaching. By continuing to use dynamic channels like blogs and podcasts, students are learning how to communicate their work to a diversity of audiences and are inspiring others to take action for the public good. To learn more about the incredible community-engaged work happening at DU, follow CCESL on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and visit the Fellows website. For more information on CCESL’s Fellow program please click here and reach out to CCESL Scholar Shop Program Coordinator Katie Vega at with any questions.

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