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Community-Engaged Signature Work - Documents to Download

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Front Page / Campus-Wide Integration / Community-Engaged Signature Work / Campus Examples



Community-Engaged Signature Work

Overview   |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


The following documents may be helpful to you and your institution as you pursue developing strategies for Engaged Signature Work. Keep in mind that the Bonner Learning Communities offer support on carrying out some of these strategies.


For the articles below, for instance, the Bonner Foundation has created a suggested format for a Community Engaged Signature Work Reading GroupTypically, reading groups involve creating a formalized group of 6-12 individuals who agree to meet periodically over a semester or year. The process of carrying one out creates opportunities for learning, dialogue, and planning.


Reading group participants split up responsibilities for doing the readings (and may even be involved in researching other readings and examples from your local community or institution).  At meetings, held over the course of a semester or year, the group’s members share the readings, discuss themes and ideas, and construct strategies to apply their learning to their own courses, policies, and institutional environment. For the Community Engaged Signature Work Reading Group format, click here.


Below, we have identified some articles for you, including many written by faculty and published in academic journals. As faculty members may also be interested in publishing options, this may also inspire some individuals in your context to consider writing and sharing their models and studies. Remember that we also have an annual publication, Engage, and we invite authors including staff, faculty, partners, and students to contribute. 



Diversity & Democracy Digest: Community-Engaged Signature Work

In signature work, through integrative projects lasting at least one semester, students pursue questions that matter both to themselves and to society. The Fall 2016 issue of Diversity & Democracy, produced in partnership with the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, explores what it means for students to explicitly and intentionally reflect and act on their roles within a community through their signature work. 



    • From the Editor: Community-Engaged Signature Work By Kathryn Peltier Campbell, Association of American Colleges and Universities



    • High-Impact Learning for Self and Society: Community-Engaged Signature Work  By Ariane Hoy, Bonner Foundation, and Kathy Wolfe, Association of American Colleges and Universities and Nebraska Wesleyan University
    • Presidential Leadership for Community-Engaged Signature Work  By Robert Hackett, Bonner Foundation
    • Building Momentum for Community Engagement: From Structural to Cultural Change  By Dave Roncolato and Ron Cole—both of Allegheny College



    • Engaging Assessment: Applying Civic Values to Evaluation  By Terry Dolson, Bryan Figura, and Sylvia Gale—all of the University of Richmond
    • Community-Engaged Signature Work: How a High-Impact Practice May Support Student Well-Being  By Ashley Finley, Dominican University of California; and Robert Reason, Iowa State University



    • Ringing True: Applied Civic Learning at Emory & Henry College  By Talmage A. Stanley, Emory & Henry College
    • Signature Work in Action: Senior Capstones Prepare Students for Unscripted Challenges  By Deborah Smith Arthur and Seanna Kerrigan—both of Portland State University
    • The Community Narrative Research Project: Harnessing the Power of Reflection for Student Learning and Structural Change  By Shannon Hoffman, Natasha Main, Anna Manoogian, Dani Plata, Elizabeth Thomas, and Marsha Walton—all of Rhodes College
    • Building Civic Capacities: Engaging Adult Students in Community Problem-Solving and Critical Reflection Online  By Susan C. Reed, DePaul University



    • Connecting My Academic Studies with Community Practice  By Katie Beck, Allegheny College
    • Discovering the Change Agent in Me  By Jonathan Franklin, Wofford College



Resources for Capstone Projects 

Community Engagement Fundamentals Knowledge Hub (Campus Compact)

This resource area provides an overview of the foundations of higher education community engagement and the breadth of work in the field 


Community Partnerships Knowledge Hub (Campus Compact)

This resource area provides information about best practices for establishing ethical, effective, and reciprocal partnerships between higher education institutions and communities. 




Beginning in 2016, campuses in the Bonner Network have the opportunity to join a Cohort Learning Community to work on creating Community Engaged Signature Work that is linked to their Bonner Program and campus curriculum and practice more broadly. AAC&U and the Bonner Foundation have been pleased to collaborate on an issue of Diversity & Democracy that will explore this concept. This presentation from Kathy Wolfe, Vice President of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons, was shared with the Bonner Foundation and its network as part of the collaboration on community engaged signature work. It is being shared here so that colleges and universities involved in creating pathways that lead to civically connected Signature Work may use it as a resource. Please do not reprint without permission from the Bonner Foundation or AAC&U. This is intended to share knowledge.



Creating Engaged Signature Work is a new initiative for the Bonner network, but it is one that is supported by the four-year student developmental model, which can be tied to both curricular and co-curricular supports. Hence, Community Engaged Signature Work for a Bonner Scholar or Leader can be seen as just another step in their progression, especially as a student takes on high levels of leadership with their community partners and often ties this work to research and inquiry-based studies.


Having a sense of how to scaffold learning experiences into your Bonner Program, as well as broader campus work, can be helpful. We also invite campuses to upload and share other examples of how they create these pathways. Students have already done many examples of Community Engaged Signature Work, and we have put some examples below.


Here is another recent presentation to faculty and staff at Rutgers University in New Brunswick:



Another presentation at the Fall 2017 Bonner Directors Meeting:



Here as an accompanying workshop handout:


Engaged Signature work and the Civic-Minded Graduate led by Dave Roncolato and Ellen Bach from Allegheny College  — Drawing on AAC&U’s Signature Work and the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning’s CivicMinded Graduate Model, this workshop explored the multiple dimensions of a strong, comprehensive and impactful civic engagement effort leading to a culminating Engaged Signature Projects for Bonner students and others. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on the strength and weaknesses of their own campus and community and to explore what are possible next steps (or first steps) in building on the strength of the particular community and institution?  


Other Articles

Note: many of the articles below are part of the suggested Community Engaged Signature Work Reading Group to be piloted by the campuses that are part of the cohort learning community. Others, providing a more general overview to community-engaged learning, are also included in the Reading Group structure. A different suggested sequence of these articles is suggested for the reading group.