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GivePulse at the 2022 Gulf-South Summit

Reflections from a Liminal Space

The Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement began in 2003. Today it is one of the premier conferences in the field. Drawing hundreds of participants from 12 Southern states and beyond. This year’s conference took place March 23-25. Sponsored by Louisiana State University and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. Sadly, plans for an in-person gathering were scrapped out of uncertainty about the impact of the Omicron surge. 

GivePulse has a strong connection to the Gulf South Summit. Our staff has attended the conference since our company’s early days; GivePulse has hosted the Gulf-South Summit registration for four years.

Cultivating Community Resilience Through Engagement at the Gulf-South Summit

A strength of the Gulf South Summit is a commitment to making sure everyone at the conference learns about where the conference is held. Even though this year’s summit was virtual, the tradition continued with an informative and thought-provoking keynote address on Houma Nation land loss in southeast Louisiana from colonial times to the present by interdisciplinary storyteller Monique Verdin. 

This year’s theme, Cultivating Community Resilience Through Engagement, was reflected in other keynote addresses and concurrent sessions. For example, MaryBeth Lima’s talk, “The Civic Engagement Recipe for Resilience,” shared inspiring and instructional stories about the school playgrounds she and her engineering students at LSU have created in close collaboration with the children who will use them. She also provided a metaphorical recipe for resilience that suggests how we can combine the things under our control with those we can influence and those we cannot control to nevertheless create a cohesive and tasty concoction. 

During the student showcase, two students at Texas A&M shared strategies for intentionally including DACA and undocumented students in service.  Areas they recommended be kept in mind ranged from an awareness of the impact ID and background check requirements can have to ensuring and advertising the availability of food and transportation so potential volunteers are not deterred from serving.

In case you missed any of these presentations, all of the keynotes and other recorded Summit sessions will remain available in Whova for six months for everyone registered for the conference.

The Liminal Space

GivePulse’s Senior Director for Outreach and Success, Brian Halderman, and Community and Accessibility Success Specialist, Jana Schroeder. Presented a workshop at the Gulf-South Summit designed to encourage community engagement practitioners to explore, reflect and act on what is emerging from the liminal space in which we currently find ourselves. The word liminal comes from the Latin for threshold. When we are in a liminal space, we are transitioning to something new but are not quite there yet. Being in a liminal space can be uncomfortable because most of us crave predictability. 

The workshop was divided into three sections with framing questions. Each section was introduced by brief clips from nine interviews GivePulse conducted with faculty, administrators, students and community partners. Participants were then invited to reflect on the same questions and to post responses on Jamboard.

Section 1: Sustainable Partnerships

What have you learned from your partners during this challenging time of COVID? How have partnerships been strengthened, and what new opportunities have emerged?

Section 2: Actionable Equity

Based on your experiences and learnings about injustice, equity and inclusion during the pandemic. How are you changing your approach to make service-learning and community engagement more accessible to everyone?

Section 3: Emerging

What do you hope community engagement and service-learning will be like going forward?

The session wrap-up focused on identifying possible actions for emerging into a more sustainable and equitable future of engagement.

As college and university community engagement offices begin to look ahead to the next academic year, we believe they might find it useful to include a session based on this workshop during a retreat or planning meeting. Download this facilitator’s guide which includes links to the video clips and the Jamboard. 

In the coming weeks, be on the look-out for blog posts spotlighting more of the rich content from the interviews with community partners, faculty, staff and students.

Here at GivePulse, we are already excited about the 2023 Gulf-South Summit. Taking place April 12-14 at the University of Georgia in Athens. 

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