Fall 2018 Speaker Series - November 1

Event Date: 
11/01/2018 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
236 New Cabell Hall

Speaker: Vialla Hartfield-Méndez, Ph.D., Professor of Pedagogy at Emory University

Title: University and Community Partners Learning and Leading Together

A major challenge of university-community partnerships is the assymetry of power relationships which can impede decision-making about such things as community-based research, community-engaged learning agreements, and student roles in community-oriented organizations.  This challenge is even more complex when the community has international ties and speaks languages other than English. To address this challenge, in spring 2017 Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (Office of the Provost) and the Center for Civic and Community Engagement (Campus Life) co-sponsored a pilot “University Learning Community” focused on a highly international area of Atlanta, the Buford Highway Corridor, and organized around the theme of Art and Social Transformation.  Participants included students, faculty, staff, and community partners interested in learning together how to create successful community-campus partnerships. Collaborative discussions, readings, and listening to each other created effective, mutually agreed-upon projects that connected directly to community-engaged courses. The University Learning Community also explored the use of arts-based inquiry as a process to create successful community-university partnerships in which perceived hierarchies of power are flattened, all voices are heard, and projects are conceptualized and implemented collaboratively.  

This talk will consider the theory and practice of university-community partnerships that value reciprocity, full participation, generativity, rigor, sustainability and resilience (especially with culturally diverse communities with immigrants and an international presence).  It will present details of the pilot University Learning Community which Hartfield-Méndez co-facilitated: lessons gleaned, assessment of the work, and examples of completed projects and student learning. It will include updates on a phase II in the same Buford Highway area as well as a second University Learning Community created with partners from a different area of Atlanta.  The talk will conclude with potential implications for community-university partnerships in multiple geographies, inviting participants to consider the UVA-Charlottesville area specifically.

About the Speaker:

Vialla Hartfield-Méndez is Director of Engaged Learning in the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (Office of the Provost) and Professor of Pedagogy in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University.  She received a Ph.D. in Spanish literature from the University of Virginia, joining Emory’s faculty after teaching at Vassar College and Drew University.  Hartfield-Méndez is the author of Woman and the Infinite.  Epiphanic Moments in Pedro Salinas’s Art and articles on twentieth-century Spanish poetry and narrative. Her work on community engagement has appeared in Hispania and PUBLIC, and a new MLA volume on Foreign-Language Teaching and the Environment.  She has co-authored several articles on issues in higher education. Leader of Emory’s Community Engaged Learning Initiative, Hartfield-Méndez has also collaborated closely with the national consortium Imagining America and the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University.