Joan Wagner wins Engaged Educator Award from Vermont Campus Compact

By: Buff Lindau

joan wagner receiving vcc award
Joan Wagner (center) receives statewide Engaged Educator Award, shown with Vermont Campus Compact Executive Director Carrie Williams Howe (left), and Saint Michael's Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Talentino (right)

Photo by Alison Redlich, Copyright © 2013

Joan Wagner was recognized for her role in integrating service and community engagement into the college curriculum by receiving the top award at the Vermont Campus Compact Engaged Campus Forum held April 12th at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center. She is the key person facilitating community-engaged learning on the Saint Michael's campus.

Ms. Wagner, Saint Michael's Director of the Center for Community-Engaged Learning and Coordinator of Experiential Learning - whose office motto is "The ultimate value of education is service to others" - was presented the statewide award based on the nomination of Saint Michael's President John J. Neuhauser, and the recommendation of Katherine Kirby, Saint Michael's associate professor of philosophy.

In presenting the award, executive director of Vermont Campus Compact Carrie Williams Howe said, "At Saint Michael's, Joan Wagner has collaborated with the volunteer office to highlight and celebrate student engagement through the 'Learn, Work, and Serve Expo' which now takes place every year; she developed and continues to organize the Experiential Learning Showcase during the annual Research symposium; and also works with the student philanthropy group "Fix it with Five" advising students who grant $10,000 of student activities fees to a local nonprofit.  Most recently, Joan was asked to lead the development of an Experiential Learning Requirement at Saint Michael's as part of the new Liberal Studies Curriculum.  On a regional level, she has worked with Campus Compact to co-facilitate faculty training events."

Saint Michael's President John J. Neuhauser said, "Joan... has been the 'go to' person on this campus when a new faculty member or staff person wishes to learn more about engaging students in active learning that extends beyond the classroom and into the wider community.” He added, “Joan has brought engaged learning wholesale to an entire campus, so much so that it is simply part of the fabric of who we are.”

Professor Kirby reiterated those thoughts saying that Joan Wagner has been "invaluable in integrating community-engaged learning of all kinds into our curriculum."

According to the website description of her office, Joan Wagner's work focuses on "Teaching students how to strive for a better world."

The Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) specifically seeks and supports close partnerships between faculty, students, and community members to make that better world a reality through an emphasis on integrating experiential service-learning, community-based research, or advocacy projects into academic coursework across the disciplines. Our focus is on the Burlington/Winooski area; however, community-engaged learning opportunities frequently propel students and faculty to other parts of Vermont, the nation, or the international community.

Several of the courses and their community partners are

  • Horses & Healing: Our Bond with Nature, Partner: Champlain Adaptive Mounted Program (CHAMP).
  • Otherness & Marginalization: Levinas and the Alienated, Partner: St. Joseph's Residential Care, about which Professor Kirby said, "Knowledge, or understanding, of ethics requires the lived experience of ethical engagement."  
  • Youth, Media, and Development, Partner: Bhutan Center for Media & Democracy.

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