The Ginsberg Center Strategic Plan: 2016-19 Overview

Our mission is to cultivate and steward mutually beneficial partnerships between communities and the University of Michigan in order to advance social change.

We envision a world with inclusive democracies; thriving, diverse communities; and equity and social justice.

Established in 1997 and endowed in 1999 with a generous gift from the family of Edward Ginsberg -- an alumnus devoted to community service and social change -- the Edward Ginsberg Center connects individual students and student organizations with co-curricular, curricular, and paid service opportunities, and also engages faculty and academic staff through consultation and support that connects socially-just engagement experiences to coursework, research, and related scholarship.

While the Ginsberg Center has a long and venerated history, the field and practice of ‘service learning’, as well as expectations of public universities have undergone great changes in recent years, changes the Ginsberg Center seeks to fully live into...

In summer 2015, the Ginsberg Center initiated a strategic planning process:

  • To understand the landscape of community-engaged learning and service as currently configured on campus;
  • To identify opportunities for Ginsberg in specific to amplify the effectiveness of this work; and
  • To shape Ginsberg’s near-term direction accordingly.

Over eight months, Ginsberg Center leadership and staff:

  1. Led focus groups with U-M faculty, staff, and students;
  2. Convened gatherings of current and prospective community partners;
  3. Engaged with the Ginsberg family, former Center faculty directors, staff, advisory board and committee members;
  4. Participated in nearly one hundred individual conversations with leaders and practitioners both on-campus and in the community; and
  5. Engaged Ginsberg Center staff and partners in Student Life and Academic Affairs to develop and refine content.

Three overarching strategic areas of emphasis emerged that will guide the future of the Ginsberg Center's work:

Student learning and leadership.
Faculty engagement and support.
Positive community impact.

These areas of emphasis are consistent with the Ginsberg Center’s founding purpose, history, and values and support the University in building its capacity for balanced community engagement practices. Through the implementation of this strategic plan, Ginsberg intends to clarify and deepen its value proposition to the campus, the institution, and the field by balancing the University’s investments and impact for on-campus constituents and the off-campus communities in which the University of Michigan operates.

1- Student Learning and Leadership

With a locus within Student Life, the Ginsberg Center has unique access to students and student organizations. Using this proximity, Ginsberg’s existing efforts to connect students with community-engaged learning opportunities can be brought to scale. Our strategies in this area will include:

Partnering to build capacity in framing and advancing leadership development for Social Change.
Re-establishing focus on increased democratic participation.
Engaging Student Organizations to inform high-impact service.
Expanding Paid and Credit-Bearing Opportunities for students to serve.
Equipping students for socially just community engagement.
Measuring Student Growth and Learning.

2- Faculty Engagement and Support

Recognizing that faculty research and teaching reside at the heart of community-engaged academic learning, the Ginsberg Center seeks to broaden engagement with faculty across campus and serve those faculty who have interest in increasing their impact through community-engaged teaching and research. Our strategies in this area will include:

Connecting faculty interests and expertise with community-based needs.
Leveraging and advancing faculty knowledge, expertise, & networks.
Enhancing and leveraging the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning.
Maintaining and deepening partnership w/ Counsel to the Provost on Civic Engagement.

3- Positive Community Impact

Ginsberg proposes to add value both to the community and to the University by curating, translating, and disseminating community interests and opportunities in which students, faculty, and staff from throughout the university can engage. Our strategies in this area will include:

Serving as a Community Engagement Center for the social sector.
Connecting University talent, research, and teaching resources toward community-identified needs.
Creating feedback mechanisms and tools for engagement.
Integrating community voice into Ginsberg and broader UM efforts.
Initially focusing on Washtenaw County, then scaling to other communities.

This Strategic Plan is designed to shift the paradigm toward more just and authentic partnerships with community, and to capture and promote strong partnership and collaboration across campus. This shift is essential to the work of the Ginsberg Center going forward and advances the University of Michigan's capacity to fully live into its mission as a public institution, in addition to maximizing the positive impact that our students will generate as leaders in the communities, nations, and the world in which they live.

In designing and leading this strategic planning process, the Ginsberg Center sought to embody the principles and values that drive the entirety of our work. In the spirit of discovering the mutual benefit that could be realized through the co-creation of Ginsberg’s future, and in the interest of building equitable and inclusive relationships, we took care to engage a diversity of stakeholders both on- and off-campus to inform, expand, and refine our thinking. We are grateful and inspired by the willingness of hundreds of individuals and groups to partner with us in developing the content of this plan.

Through the implementation of this plan, the Ginsberg Center seeks to provide leadership by fulfilling its role as a key part of the University’s many successful established community engagement efforts and initiatives.

We invite you to work with us on the strategies and actions described within this plan, all of which seek to promote amplified impact through increased connection, and more aligned and collective action.

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