LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare has announced a new Center for Community Engagement & Collaboration (CCEC). Housed jointly within the school’s Office of Research and its instructional programs, the center’s two divisions will focus on initiatives that broaden and deepen the social welfare school's connections to its valued community partners, particularly its field agencies, alumni and research partners.
The CCEC’s co-directors are Amy Mendenhall and Ed Scanlon, KU associate deans for research and academic affairs.
The center division responsible for professional and continuing education (PCE) is led by Kortney Carr, associate professor of practice. Under Carr’s leadership, CCEC will strengthen its continuing education by extending additional training opportunities to the general profession and to other disciplines whose work intersects with social work, innovating new modalities for PCE design and delivery, and exploring certification approaches to credential the capacities participants develop through the center’s offerings.
The center division responsible for agency capacity-building and community evaluation is led by Melinda Lewis, associate professor of practice. Lewis’ efforts include collaborating with other units on campus to work community engagement approaches, support faculty in connecting their scholarship to a broader community constituency, conduct utilization-focused evaluation with and for community partners, serve as a liaison between the school and community efforts that align with the school’s mission, and respond to requests for investments in agency capacity.
The center also prioritizes involving social welfare students in the school’s community engagement activities. Students will participate in community evaluation projects as research assistants and, in future academic years, as part of practicum placements, and students will also benefit from the school’s increased emphasis on continuing education for those at all career levels.
After an introduction by Mendenhall, Lewis will facilitate a webinar from noon-1:30 p.m. March 7 to introduce CCEC, its intended work and partnership opportunities, and its approach to community collaboration. The public is invited to register for the free event. One hour of Kansas continuing education credit is available for social workers. Future events are planned to more formally launch the PCE efforts and to highlight the work of individual faculty members to engage community partners in their scholarship. Event information will be available online.
“Through my continuous conversations with social workers throughout the state of Kansas and beyond, one consistent message was the need for the School of Social Welfare to take a leadership role in offering relevant training opportunities, developing interdisciplinary connections and expanding community partnerships. I am extremely proud of the faculty for their dedication to developing the CCEC and their constant collaboration with community partners to continue to grow, evolve and fulfill the needs of our communities,” said Michelle Mohr Carney, dean of the social welfare school.
Questions about the Center for Community Engagement and Collaboration, the upcoming webinar and/or possible partnerships can be directed to either associate director or to the general center email.