On March 16th, Taylor team member Máille Faughnan and community partner and Executive Director of PlayBuild NOLA, Angela Kyle, presented a talk titled “Pausing in the Pandemic: Reimagining Community Engagement in New Orleans.”
The talk was part of The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility’s Engaged Scholarship Symposium that was held March 16-18th. The Lang Center facilitates Swarthmore College’s commitment to ethical engagement, and social responsibility by connecting what they call the three C’s: curriculum, campus, and communities. The Lang Center promotes these three C’s as “Engaged Scholarship,” a term coined by Ernest Boyer to describe teaching and research that connect “the rich resources of the university to our most pressing social, civic, and ethical problems.”
The 2021 Engaged Scholarship Symposium featured conversations on “Community Engagement and Collaboration,” (where Máille and Angela’s talk took place), “Racial Justice & Equity,” and “Environmental Justice.” The goal of the symposium was to “create a space in which faculty and staff could share examples of and approaches to Engaged Scholarship, particularly the innovations and adaptations that have emerged over the past year to meet the unique demands of the current moment.”
In their presentation, Máille and Angela made a case for “pausing” a scheduled community engagement scholarship project as an appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation drew on the long-term partnership between the Taylor Center and PlayBuild NOLA and the disparities, tensions, and potential spaces for growth in the partnership that the pandemic has illuminated. Máille and Angela discussed various models of community partnership, their engagement journey, as well as insights gleaned from their recent collaborative development action inquiry process with six other Taylor Center staff and PlayBuild community board members: Anna Monhartova, Laura Murphy, Lesley-Ann Noel, Megan Flattley, LaTanya Kennedy, and Arcola Webb.
As the talk title indicates, Máille and Angela conveyed the “pandemic pause” as an opportunity for reflection and learning between the institutional and community partners. This reflection also enabled the team of co-writers to acknowledge their own personal frames and positions within the partnership and to identify how those frames could become sources of strength for the partnership going forward.
A video recording of the panel can be found here.