Sewanee was accepted earlier this year as one of nine schools to participate in the Bonner Foundation High Impact Initiative. Sewanee was already part of the Bonner Foundation network of “Bonner Leaders” schools; Bonner Leaders schools recruit students to participate in a program that includes a paid service internship in a local educational, government, or non-profit agency. The High Impact Initiative is intended to create a national consortium of campus-community teams committed to developing the best practices of student engagement designed to foster citizen leaders.
Other colleges represented at a recent High Impact Initiative meeting were Allegheny College, Berea College, Berry College, Carson-Newman College, Saint Mary's College of California, Siena College, Stetson University, and Washburn University.
Sewanee's Bonner High Impact team consisted of the university's Bonner Program administrators Jim Peterman and Robin Hille Michaels; community member Emily Partin, director of the Grundy County Schools Family Resource Center; Assistant Dean of Students Mary Beth Williams; Deborah McGrath, chair of the Biology Department and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies; Richard O’Connor, professor of Anthropology; Will Watson, C’13, student representative on the College Curriculum Committee; and Gabrielle Spangenberg, C’14, intern in the Bonner Leader program.
Each campus-community team was tasked with developing a strategic plan for improving community service opportunities for all of its students. Sewanee’s team developed a plan to pilot community engagement living-learning communities that would be associated with a new place-based seminar for freshmen expected to begin in the fall of 2013. These living-learning communities will be organized as discussion groups and will take up a range of local issues that emerge from the freshman seminar.