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Provost Blake recently announced that the university has adjusted the option for most undergraduate courses to be taken pass/no pass for this semester only. Students have been contacted to explain this option and how they go about electing it for their courses.

Many other institutions are going this route as well. What does this mean for the service expectations in your course? If students plan to not complete their service expectation because they can pass the course without it, how are you discussing with them the responsible conversation they should have with their community partner (if their partner organization is open). 

We have learned that many CES course instructors (adjunct faculty in particular) are not receiving all of the latest information about courses and resources for shifting to distance learning. Given that, I'm sharing the following message from Kimberly Gross, of Columbian College with some related information/resources.

...continue reading "Adjustment to Allow Students to Select Pass/No Pass Option"

[Updated March 26, 2020]

Please note, in response to the increased calls to commit to physical distancing, we ask that you instruct students to NOT engage in any direct service activities at this time. We are continuing to seek opportunities for distance/online service for your students. I also recommend some of the assignment alternatives provided in the "Teaching distance community engaged scholarship courses" link below. 

Know that we will continue to update these posts with additional resources.

If YOU have assignment alternatives or approaches, tips on facilitating reflection conversations through distance learning, or plans for continuing to support your community partner remotely, please share them ( so they can be shared via these resource lists.

We recognize that for some courses, continued service projects will not be possible. If you need other ways to engage students in deeper critical reflection work, we offer these readings, podcasts, and other resources.

We will use this space to continue to share ideas and examples of ways to engage students in thoughtful reflections about civic responsibility and social/environmental justice. If you have your own examples to share here, please email them to Wendy Wagner,

...continue reading "Resources: Materials to Stir Critical Reflection"

[Updated April 1, 2020]

We will use this space to share ideas and examples of ways to support the local community while maintaining responsible physical distance. If you have your own examples to share here, please email them to Wendy Wagner,

Supporting Your Course's Community Partner(s) During COVID-19

Whether you teach a community engaged scholarship course or engage through your own scholarly work (clinical practice, research, or creative work) you are likely finding yourself in a position of needing to consider how to best support your community partner during the upcoming weeks of responsible physical distancing. The most important values to maintain at this time are related to maintaining democratic processes. We must invite and respect our community partners’ voices in our planning. Ask how physical distancing and health concerns are impacting the services they provide and how your help can be re-directed to where it is most needed.

Keep in mind that staff local service organizations are likely working through their own struggles with ambiguity right now, and may not be able to accommodate your sense of urgency. Offer ideas for remote assistance, but be flexible and ready to adapt to what they need - including if that means suspending student involvement for the time being to give volunteer coordinators some space to build their own overall strategy. A few ideas to suggest:

...continue reading "Resources: Opportunities for Service During COVID-19"

[Updated March 29, 2020]

We will continue to update this post with additional resources. If you have assignment alternatives or approaches, tips on facilitating reflection conversations through distance learning, or plans for continuing to support your community partner remotely, please share them ( and they will be added to these resource lists.

While we all recognize it is much better to have time for proper distance-learning course design, teaching a community engaged scholarship course from a distance CAN be done. Recognizing that some of our community partner organizations will be closing or restricting voluntary service in order to practice physical distancing, we recommend providing 1-2 alternative assignments for students who will still have service requirements to fulfill for your course.

...continue reading "Resources: Teaching Distance Community Engaged Scholarship Courses"

Unfortunately, the GW Research Showcase event has been cancelled for this year. However, the Nashman Prize for Community-Based Participatory Research will still be awarded. Students who have already submitted abstracts for this prize will be notified by the end of this week if they have been selected for consideration. Students under consideration for the prize will be invited to present at the Virtual Symposium on Community Engaged Scholarship (see above) at the end of the semester. Judging for the prize will occur the week of April 27th. Please let me know if you are interested in serving as a judge.

As you consider options for students to complete service projects remotely, be sure to START by examining how many students still need to serve. The good and great Rachel Talbert has made a helpful video reviewing how to get a summary of service of all students in your course and how many service hours each has already reported. For students who still have service to do, the next step is to remind them to report their service on GWServes, which you can do directly from the GWServes platform itself. This will help you determine the extent to which alternative service options are needed. Link to tutorial video.


The need for responsible physical distancing is creating as much chaos for our local community partners as it is for ourselves. Some, like DC Public Schools and the public libraries, have closed entirely. Some, like those who serve the aging population, are continuing operations but are not working with volunteers for the time being. Others still accept volunteer support. The Nashman Center is keeping track of local service organizations as best we can, so reach out if you have questions about our local partners. We are also encouraging our partners to use GWServes to report their status as well as any needs they have that could be addressed by volunteers or service-learners from a distance. If you are in your own communications with community partners, please also encourage them to use the platform as a way to get their messages out to our whole community. If they need support using the platform, they can reach out to Tereese Smith (

For trustworthy real time updates about the virus and response in Washington, DC, visit:


As you move forward with course re-design in the COVID-19 era, please continue to plan on creating an opportunity for your students to present their community engaged scholarship projects and reflections at the Symposium. This event, held at the end of every semester, is an opportunity for students to share and learn from each other about important issues in community engagement. This year, students will be invited to participate virtually, by preparing brief (1-2 minute) video or multi-media presentations. These presentations will be due on April 24th, the original date of the planned in-person Symposium, and made available for viewing and comment the week of April 27th. In the coming weeks, we will share platforms, tutorials, and recommendations for creating engaging virtual presentations. As is true for the traditional in-person Symposium, students should be prepared to not only present their own work, but also review and learn from the work of other students.

GW recently joined the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. This organization, "connects leaders and scholars of urban and metropolitan universities to share, discuss, and debate important issues facing our unique institutions and the cities we serve."

The association distributes relevant news, facilitates conversations across member institutions, holds an annual conference, and publishes a journal.

Stay tuned for more information on the connections and professional development benefits you can take advantage of given our institutional membership.

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