The Fourth Annual Engagement and Service-Learning Summit


Dr. Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, one of the discussion facilitators, watches as participants work through an engagement case study activity.

On February 28, 2019, faculty, students, and community partners came together for the fourth annual Purdue Engagement and Service-Learning Summit. This event, hosted by the Office of Engagement and Purdue Honors College, featured interactive sessions on service-learning best practices, networking opportunities for new partnerships, and a showcase of scholarly projects related to engagement.

Throughout the day, researchers and community partners sat down to discuss their current projects and future needs in efforts to find common ground for academic and civic pursuits. As attendees attest, the Summit serves not only as an educational opportunity, but also a setting for relationship-building, with opportunities to form new relationships that transition into collaborative engagement projects.

Jennifer Chalmers of the Special Olympics of Tippecanoe County began working with Boiler Communications to promote their events after attending the Summit last year, and this year she returned to learn more about improving the service-learning program. Many community partners have formed long-term relationships with Purdue faculty by attending the Summit.


Dr. Steiner discusses the methods of collaboration between community-based research and community organizations. Facilitators for track two focused on advanced practices of collaboration and engaged scholarship.

Opportunities for All

This year, the Summit allowed attendees to choose between two interactive sessions: a beginning track for those new to service-learning and an advanced track for those looking to further their skills.

  • The introductory track discussed critical listening and strategies for forming partnerships across identity boundaries, using an innovative new model developed by guest presenters Daniel Griffith, J.D., and Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, Ph.D. Griffith is the Director of Conflict Resolution and   Programs from IUPUI’s Office of Intercultural Literacy, Capacity, and Engagement; and Gentle-Genitty is the Assistant Vice President for University Academic Affairs at IU’s Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs.


  • The second track was facilitated by a team of engagement experts from across Purdue’s campuses: Dr. Don Mueller, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue Fort Wayne; Dr. Marifran Mattson, Head of the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue; Dr. Mary Jane Eisenhauer, Associate Professor of Education and Counseling at Purdue Northwest; Dr. Rod Williams, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science at Purdue; and Dr. Sherrie Steiner, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Purdue Fort Wayne. This session coached attendees with some experience in service-learning on how to sustain their partnerships and turn projects into engaged scholarship.


Sharing Engagement Projects and Research


The Summit concluded with poster presentations and awards. Undergraduate, Graduate, and Faculty researchers shared their projects with their peers and community partners to learn more about the diversity of projects completed at Purdue.

Amy Wood, Director of Volunteer Engagement for United Way of Greater Lafayette, served as the liaison between community organizations and Purdue’s Office of Engagement for the event. She helped bring representatives from over a dozen different community organizations to the Summit to share their experiences and learn more about university engagement opportunities.

She comments that the Summit “helps educate participants about service-learning, and also helps [community partners] learn about what Purdue staff are interested in forming service-learning partnerships.”

Attending the summit as a community partner also streamlines the process of entering the Service-Learning Fellows program. The Fellows program offers opportunities for Purdue faculty and community partners to receive funding for service-learning and engagement projects.

The Summit concluded with poster presentations and awards. Students and faculty shared their unique research and scholarly projects with other summit participants. Some of these projects had a local focus, while others described programs aimed at assisting those abroad.

At the end of the evening, Claire Anderson, a senior in the Professional Writing Program at Purdue, received the award for Outstanding Student Work in Service-Learning and Engagement for her work compiling and curating Lafayette historical data and creating an interactive display for the Faith Community Development Corporation and the Northend Community Center in Lafayette.

Her work researching the history of Lafayette’s North End neighborhoods began in her English 203 class, taught by Carrie Grant. She continued her work as an intern for Faith the following summer and into the fall and spring semesters.

If you are interested in attending the Engagement and Service-Learning Summit, be on the lookout for dates to attend next winter. The Summit is open to university students and faculty, as well as community partners. It is a great way to network with service-oriented individuals and learn more about service-learning and engagement methodology.