News from the Harward Center for Community Partnerships – Fall 2015

In This Issue

Dear Friends,Darby

As the fall semester comes to an end, Harward Center staff are closing the books on one of our busiest seasons to date. Bates faculty from a dozen different departments and programs offered twenty-four community-engaged learning courses this fall, enrolling nearly 500 students. Among the dozens of projects undertaken by students in partnership with off-campus community members were a polar climate expo for middle school students, dam re-licensing research and recommendations for the City of Auburn, summer learning loss research with a local elementary school, and presentations to statewide legislators of student research into climate change’s probable impacts on Maine industries like farming, skiing, maple syrup, and lobster. In the co-curricular sphere, the new Community Liaison program helped mobilize student clubs and varsity athletic teams for a wide range of community-engaged projects, from sports clinics to theater workshops. Meanwhile, under the able leadership of Laura Sewall, director of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Shortridge Coastal Center, Bates took the lead on a National Science Foundation planning grant aimed at the creation of a network of field stations in the Gulf of Maine, one of the fastest-warming bodies of water on earth.

Even as we celebrate the unparalleled collaborative spirit of the Paris climate change agreement and the many ways our students are learning to work constructively across differences, we grieve the Islamophobia and political polarization that increasingly pit neighbor against neighbor and community against community. Here in Lewiston/Auburn, we are emerging from a bruising local election season in which Bates students participated with passion and maturity, and we are working to forge new and stronger partnerships with immigrant-led organizations. The new year will no doubt bring its share of challenges and disappointments, but it will also be filled with fresh opportunities to work with diverse others toward shared goals and the public good. We look forward to those opportunities!

As always, we welcome your feedback, partnership, and support.


Renowned Speakers Featured in Civic Forum Series

Peggy Rotundo, Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives

Headshot of Sen. Angus KingThe Harward Center’s Civic Forum series explores civic, political, and policy issues of significance to the Bates community, Maine, and beyond. During the Fall semester, an impressive group of speakers engaged students, faculty, staff, and off-campus community members in learning and reflection on some of today’s most pressing issues.

Maine’s U.S. Senator, Angus King, kicked the series off in October with an entertaining and timely talk on the reasons for Congress’s current dysfunction. In a presentation that reached back to ancient Greek philosophy and into the halls of today’s Capitol, Senator King argued that while fierce disagreement, hard-won negotiation, and a healthy skepticism toward governmental overreach have been hallmarks of the American political system since its inception, the unrelenting polarization and contempt toward government that characterize much political discourse and behavior today are a dramatic departure from, and a threat to, democracy itself.

Cuban popular educator and author, Ariel Dacal Diaz, also visited Bates in October, sharing his perspective on the importance of preserving the Cuban revolution during this period of normalization with the United States. In addition to his formal presentation, Diaz engaged students in a lively discussion during an informal dinner sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Education at Bates.

Becca StevensIn a partnership with the Center for Wisdom’s Women in Lewiston, the Harward Center hosted Becca Stevens, acclaimed speaker, writer, and founder of the social enterprise, Thistle Farms. In a Civic Forum entitled, “Burning Desire: Our Longing for Justice and Hope for Healing,” Becca shared the story of her journey to secure safety, healing, and opportunity for women who have survived addiction, trafficking, and incarceration. She and two Thistle Farms graduates spoke powerfully about the “housing first” model of bringing hope and healing to women. They also met with students interested in social enterprise as a response to social injustice.

In the final Civic Forum talk of the year, former president of the Conversation Law Foundation, Phil Warburg, spoke compellingly about the prospects and benefits of solar power. Based on his most recent book, Harness the Sun, Wartburg’s presentation highlighted the stories of diverse people and projects from across the country who are part of today’s solar revolution.

Coordinating Gulf of Maine Research and Monitoring: NSF Planning Grant Update

Laura Sewall, Director of BMMCA & the Shortridge Coastal Center

NSFPhotoThe combined assets of Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and the Shortridge Coastal Center offer opportunities to do coastal research, student training, and community outreach—and to claim a place in the vibrant resurrection of field stations in the United States. An element of rebuilding our research infrastructure for the natural sciences is the National Research Council’s encouragement to network across stations, habitats and disciplines. A National Science Foundation FSML (field station and marine lab) planning grant was awarded to Bates College (in partnership with the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership) in early August to do just that, and to establish BMMCA + Shortridge as a contributing member of the nation’s active field stations.

One month later, and after a lively two-day discussion on Hurricane Island, a new network of Gulf of Maine field station directors and researchers agreed to forge ahead with efforts to track environmental change in the coastal zone. Our consensus was to focus efforts on monitoring “sentinels” that point to climate change impacts; that are do-able for our band of twelve small stations; and that would produce data that can be meaningfully shared and linked to the work of larger Gulf of Maine field stations and marine labs.

A second meeting took place at the Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge in November to work toward the identification of specific protocols and equipment needed to develop a data base that is both place-based and spans the regional extent of the Gulf of Maine. Discussions also centered on a strategic plan and a proposal for a National Science Foundation implementation grant. The proposal will ask for what we need to implement a 10 year plan to explore and determine regional patterns of change; to train students to engage in coastal research; and to do effective outreach in coastal communities, and by extension, to enable managers and decision-makers to facilitate adaptation in the coastal zone.

There is no doubt that the Gulf of Maine is changing rapidly. A recent study conducted by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute claims that our semi-enclosed coastal waters are warming faster than 99% of all planetary marine water bodies. This finding alone has served as a “call to action” for many coastal researchers and managers. As director of the Shortridge Coastal Center and recipient of the initial funding to engage a network of committed individuals and stations, I am delighted that Bates is contributing to such purposeful work on the Maine coast.

Tieken Named Lynton Finalist by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education and the Center for Engaged Democracy

Darby Ray, Director

MaraBookMara Casey Tieken, assistant professor of Education at Bates, was recognized this fall for her outstanding publicly-engaged teaching and scholarship by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education and the Center for Engaged Democracy. Named one of eight national finalists for the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty, Mara was the only finalist from a small liberal arts college.

At Bates, Mara is a much loved and respected teacher of classes on school reform, racial equity, and community organizing. Through fieldwork, her students partner with local teachers and after-school providers to expand educational opportunity in the Lewiston/Auburn community. She has worked with a number of local organizations to provide professional development and build public awareness on relevant educational issues such as college access and rural schooling, and she also serves on the boards of several community organizations and foundations. Mara’s research focuses on racial and educational equity in rural schools and communities. In her book, Why Rural Schools Matter (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), Mara’s careful ethnographic work highlights the falsity of stereotypes of rural deficiency and decline and reveals the complexity and vibrancy of rural institutions and places. Mara is currently working on a multi-year project, supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, that explores the college aspirations, transitions, and persistence of rural, first-generation students. Mara came to Bates from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she earned her doctorate. Prior to that, she taught third grade at a public elementary school in rural Tennessee. Mara is a highly regarded partner of the Harward Center and a valued member of college and community.

New Course Taught by Harward Center Staff

Darby Ray, Director

This fall, the Harward Center offered a new community-engaged First-Year Seminar, “Identity: Self and Community.” Originally developed by Sherry Russell in 2012, this seminar was modified and taught by the Harward Center’s Ellen Alcorn. In the course, students explored the concept of identity and its implications for how we live as individuals and as members of communities. The central question of the course was, “How do we live in community in ways that support well-being for self, other, and the community as a whole?” One of the course assignments was a semester-long scavenger hunt in which students completed a range of activities, such as volunteering for various organizations, frequenting downtown shops, getting a library card from the Lewiston Public Library, and visiting significant landmarks. This and other class experiences, wrote one student in a culminating reflective essay, “changed my perspective to appreciate Lewiston in an entirely new light. I [now] view it as a place of integration, an opportunity for civic engagement, and a city with a multi­faceted history of many cultures. This change in perspective…was the beginning of a drastic shift, ­ one of many small alterations in how I see the world around me.”

Bates Partnership Brings Politically Active Art to Maine

Rachel Boggia, Assistant Professor of Dance

San Fransisco-based choreographer Sean Dorsey brought his special brand of politically active art to Bates, Lewiston and Portland thanks to a 2014-15 collaboration between Bates College Department of Theater and Dance, the Bates Dance Festival, and the Harward Center for Community Partnerships.  America’s first acclaimed transgender choreographer, Dorsey’s recent works are based on oral histories of underrepresented groups.  His evening-length quartet, The Secret History Of Love, reveals the underground ways that LGBT people managed to survive and find love in decades past, despite tremendous legal and social obstacles. Sean Dorsey Dance performed The Secret History of Love in Schaeffer Theater for a diverse and appreciative audience. After the show, LGBT high school students and community leaders met privately with Dorsey’s company to discuss the work. Dorsey taught over 140 Bates students from across the curriculum during his residencies, but worked most intensively with those in Dance 253, Repertory and Performance. These students learned two excerpts of The Secret History of Love and performed them in the 2014 Fall Dance Concert.  The performers were touched by the process. Said one, “Sean is out there making a difference and using dance as a platform to tell untold histories…being around [him] reminds me that I am someone that matters and someone that can make a difference and be successful in the world.” Dorsey also met with LGBT elders in Portland to gather oral histories for his 2015 The Missing Generation, which gives voice to the longterm survivors of the early AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s and 90’s. The Missing Generation had its east coast premier at the 2015 Bates Dance Festival.

Bates Hosts 2015 Project Pericles Conference

Darby Ray, Director

ProjectPericlesCivic engagement faculty and staff from 28 colleges gathered at Bates in November for the 2015 Project Pericles Program Directors’ Conference. Project Pericles is a national consortium that encourages and facilitates commitments by colleges and universities to include education for social responsibility and participatory citizenship as an essential element of their educational programs. The two-day conference featured presentations and discussions of diverse topics, including social entrepreneurism/innovation, faculty development, student learning outcomes, and the integration of civic engagement priorities and practices across the institution. A highlight of the conference was a student-led walk through downtown Lewiston, followed by a locally-sourced lunch at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center and a panel discussion by a group of young Bates alumni (Ben Chin, Nate Libby, Erin Reed, Craig Saddlemire, and Julia Sleeper) who have put down local roots and become important community leaders. During the past two years, support from Project Pericles has helped Bates develop new curricular and co-curricular pathways for civic engagement and social responsibility, including the new General Education Concentration (Knowledge, Action and the Public Good) and the Community Liaison program.

Shortridge Summer Residencies Provide Students an Engaging Place to Call Home for the Summer

Madelyn Heart, Class of 2018

Hidden in the woods of Phippsburg, Maine, the Shortridge Coastal Center provided me with a truly special and engaging place to call home for the summer. On a typical day, the huge kitchen table was strewn with laptops opened to various excel spreadsheets, while on the living room couch there might be over 100 Ziploc bags painstakingly labeled for the next day’s marsh data collection. In the driveway, it was not uncommon to see a large Marine Mammals of Maine truck with an injured or dead seal inside. Most Shortridge residents did not work a typical nine-to-five workday; instead, scheduling was done around the arrival of low tide. And after the data were collected, and when the weather was warm, wetsuits drying on the picnic table were evidence of wild moments spent surf kayaking off Seawall Beach.

Working with geology professor Bev Johnson, students Cailene Gunn ’16 and Dana Cohen-Kaplan’16 conducted senior thesis research on carbon and methane emissions from nearby salt marshes. Their results will contribute to a relatively new and rapidly growing body of research and bolster arguments to protect the health of salt marshes in the context of climate change.

Nicole Cueli ’16 and Ian Hillenbrand ’17, working under the supervision of geology professor Mike Retelle, surveyed Seawall and Popham beaches to assess how seasonal processes and sea level rise effect erosion and accretion. Nicole described her work by saying, “Not only do I get to work in a great place, I am also able to inform residents of what’s happening along the beaches.” Jane Weinstock (Smith College, ’16) continued a similar and on-going research program based at Smith College by “profiling” the beach at Popham State Park.

Another summer resident, Nicole Dubois (University of Maine ’16), served as a technical assistant for the non-profit organization, Marine Mammals of Maine; her favorite part of the job was the opportunity to rescue seals. Another Bates student, Nathan Stephansky ’17, worked as a gatekeeper for the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area. His role was to help maintain the conservation goals of the area and, in his words, “meet the most interesting people in the world.” Lastly, I was Laura Sewall’s (director of the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area and the Shortridge Coastal Center) assistant for the summer. I was privileged to help Laura on several projects related to a National Science Foundation grant designed to join twelve coastal research stations—ranging from Nova Scotia to Nantucket—in order to collectively assess climate-related changes in the Gulf of Maine. As part of those activities, I was able to spend two days on Hurricane Island to assist with the first meeting of the consortium of field stations.

ShortridgeIt was exciting to live in a house filled with interesting individuals and to do meaningful work. Family dinners on Tuesday nights were full of stories ranging from what happened on the marsh that day to a study abroad experience in New Zealand. Interactions with the local community were inspiring and thought-provoking, too. The Shortridge Summer Residency is a wonderful experience, and the Shortridge Coastal Center is a gem that Batesies are lucky to have.

In The News

Want to know more about something in this newsletter, or have questions about the Harward Center or the civic mission of Bates College? Please contact Kristen Cloutier or visit us online.