Led by:

Anne DePrince, Professor, Psychology and Faculty Director, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Art Jones, Teaching Professor, Lamont School of Music

The University is working to enhance mutually beneficial and reciprocal opportunities for community-university collaboration. Such opportunities will serve the public good and promote social change, with special attention to underserved communities. Our aim is to engage all schools, disciplines, and departments in order to advance collaboration that will increase the public good impact of our research, creative work, teaching/learning, and service.

DU’s public good vision recognizes the multidisciplinary nature of society’s most pressing issues. Therefore, it calls forth problem-solving and solution-seeking across the university—from the humanities to the arts, engineering, business, and beyond.


Working Groups

Collaboration for the Public Good

Amanda Moore McBride

Dean, Graduate School of Social Work

Vickie Berkley

DU Grand Challenges Program Manager, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Cara DiEnno

Associate Director, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Carolyn Sommers

Assistant Director of Career & Professional Development, Career Services

David Miller

Executive Director, Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise

Heather Martin

Teaching Associate Professor, Writing Program

Lynn Schofield Clark

Professor, Media, Film and Journalism Studies and Director, Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media

The Collaboration for the Public Good working group has been working on 3 main projects:

Grand Challenges:

We have developed a plan to tackle “Grand Challenges.” We will harness the multi-disciplinary expertise and interests of students, staff, faculty and Colorado community members to pursue ambitious and achievable public good goals. Challenges will roll out in three-year cycles. In the first year, a challenge will be selected and aspirations will be identified. In year two, collaborative actions will be taken to address the challenge. For example, faculty and students might work with communities on research projects or creative work that addresses the challenge. The final year will be spent demonstrating achievements toward the public good goals.

A few months ago, we asked you to share your ideas for issues that the DU Grand Challenges should address. We received over 150 responses from you, our students and faculty, and from members of the Denver community.

Thriving Communities will address three issues: Living, Working, and Participating. Each of these issues will be addressed in 3-year cycles that allow us to co-create Aspirations, Actions, and Achievement with community partners.

The 2017-2018 Grand Challenges Classes RFP is available here.

Two inaugural DU Grand Challenges Scholars Grants have been awarded to faculty for community-engaged scholarship that will tackle issues that impact daily living in our communities.  Dr. Kimberly Bender, GSSW and Dr. Matt Rutherford, RSECS, have been awarded $4,974 for their project, Design Thinking for Public Good: Youth Homelessness. Dr. Nancy Reichman, CWC, has been awarded $5,000 for her project, Living A Middle-Class Life in Colorado.

As a preface to Grand Challenges, we hosted a regular series of forums designed to facilitate dialogue about collaboration to advance community-engaged scholarship. Over 60 faculty and staff from various departments across campus have attended these events, discussing and exploring collaborations on topics ranging from sustainability to scholarship for equity.  You can watch the videos of past forums and be informed of future events on CCESL’s Facebook page.

Please join us for a DU Grand Challenges Forum, “Scholarship for Health and Healthy Development” on February 22nd, from 4:00-5:30pm in AAC 290, Special Events Room.

Community-Engaged Student Fellows:

This year, the cohort is comprised of 12 Community-Engaged Student Fellows from disciplines across campus including Biology, Research Methods & Statistics, English, Higher Education, Economics, Social Work, and more. The fellows are working in the issue areas of the Metropolitan Denver Nature Alliance (mDNA), Immigration, Refugees, Health Equity, Social Justice & Sustainability, Education Access & Equity, Gender Equity, Arts & Engagement, Writing & the Public Good, Urban Renewal, and DU Grand Challenges.

This student program is designed to be responsive to evolving organizational support needs for faculty, staff, and students working in multidisciplinary public good issue areas. Two public good/community engagement collaborations are a direct result of fellows work from  2016-2017, while an additional 11 projects/ideas/connections are in progress, having been seeded by the work of the fellows.

Student Spotlight:

Community-Engaged Student Fellow, Sara Abdullah served as a liaison to faculty interested in the work of Metro Denver Nature Alliance (mDNA) with Susan Daggett, Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Executive Director, and assisting in the development of a portfolio of community-engaged research, creative work and/or teaching and learning in partnership with the mDNA.

In the hopes that DU faculty and students might work closely with the mDNA and its partners on a shared research agenda, use of citizen science, and other community-engaged teaching and scholarship, Daggett and Abdullah, organized a kickoff lunch on December 2nd. Abdullah helped Daggett organize by:

  • Conducting an institutional scan to find faculty with expertise broadly connected to the alliance to supplement the list of faculty with whom Daggett had already connected
  • Drafting the event invitation, securing catering, creating the agenda, assisting with outreach and creating an end of event interest survey.

The event generated much enthusiasm for the mDNA. Of the 28 attendees, 21 were faculty members from 9 academic divisions, 3 staff members and 3 graduate students. Some exciting partnership ideas were generated and there are already two service learning classes partnering with the mDNA underway. Abdullah and Daggett are convening subgroups based on faculty-identified interests to determine how best to support collaborations moving forward.

Institutional Scan of Current Community-Engaged Work:

We have recently completed a survey to benchmark DU’s current community-engaged work that will allow us to identify ways to advance collaboration for the public good. We are currently analyzing and mapping the results and relationships.

Last Updated: 2/12/18

The Spirituals Project

M. Roger Holland, II

Director of the Spirituals Project and Teaching Assistant Professor, Lamont School of Music

Arthur Jones

Founder of the Spirituals Project and Teaching Professor, Lamont School of Music

In 1998, The Spirituals Project (SP) was founded to preserve and revitalize the music and teachings of the sacred folk songs called “spirituals,” created and first sung by enslaved Africans in America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Last summer, M. Roger Holland, II was selected to be the Director after a nationwide search and also joined the Lamont School of Music faculty. In September, Arthur C. Jones also joined Lamont after serving as chair of the Spirituals Project board, as a clinical professor in the university’s Psychology Department for 18 years, and subsequently as a clinical professor and associate dean at DU’s Colorado Women’s College for seven years.

This past academic year, we outlined a strategic vision and preliminary five-year plan. The strategic plan focuses in four areas: Research, Education, Activism and Performance. To read the strategic plan, please visit: Spirituals – 5 Year Plan

In collaboration with the Office of Teaching and Learning, the SP developed Sweet Chariot: The Story of the Spirituals, a comprehensive multimedia educational website for use in courses, and for anyone interested in learning about the history and ongoing influences of the spirituals. The Sweet Chariot website includes an extensive historical overview, explorations of the evolving cultural and musical contexts of the spirituals, sound clips of songs, excerpts of interviews with artists, composers and community workers, and links to library and internet resources for those interested in further study.

Currently, we are planning for the first focused academic symposium this fall.

We also hosted several concerts throughout the year. One tradition of the spirituals are the slave songs themselves, historically sung in solitude, while working, or/and communally. Another is the concertized versions of the spirituals. The Choir consists of singers of all ages and backgrounds with varying degrees of musical experience.

To view the Choir schedule, please visit the Lamont Performance events calendar:

 Last Updated: 6/2/17