Social Responsibility & Student Engagement at GW

Today is the second of a 2-part guest post from Peter Konwerski, Ed.D,  Senior Associate Vice President & Dean of Students at GW.   In addition to his administrative duties, Dr. Konwerski also teaches in the Human Services Program, Sociology Department & Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

As I finish my read of Half the Sky, I’m actually looking to take principles the authors prompt and further expand the debate I engage during the spring Dean’s Seminar I teach on “Spirituality and Service.”   For my freshman, it seems like the ideal opportunity to further examine the issue raised in Chapter 9 about whether Islam is Misogynistic and further explore with freshman students involved in this service-learning class, how they feel that perspective compares to other major world religions and their willingness to welcome women.

Additionally, through my administrative role as Dean of Students, I also work with a team of staff in GW offices like the GW Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and the Office of Community Service as well as the Career Center, GW Housing, Student Activities, and Mount Vernon Campus Life.  Through the programming and student engagement efforts of these units, we hope to provide ways for students to challenge the status quo.  Along the continuum of civic engagement, from direct action to administrative organizing, this might include a level of student activism at home or abroad.  My staff and I continually seek to find ways to help students partner with GW campus resources as well as our active alumni and academic partners around the globe to expand the reach we have as a civil society and committed community.

Through first year programs like Community Building Community and Freshman Day of Service, we hope to launch that next generation of young agents of change and instill in our own educated volunteer army, the skills, tools and frame of reference to go forward in their life and careers to make a difference well beyond their time in Washington, DC.

For GW students, that could include exploring the value of international education and study abroad noted in Chapter 5, examining the impact of involvement in education, from kindergarten through college explained so well in Chapter 10 in the District – a city which faces its own issues on inequality.  We also strive to challenge apathy and channeling it toward action as noted in Chapter 14 — to help student realize what you can do next to act and be engaged.

I look forward to GW being that type of leading learning partner, helping inspire the debate over what our corporate social responsibility is to campus and in the community, particularly in the minds of our student, staff, faculty stakeholders as well as our alumni allies equally committed to service and social justice called for in our campus mission statement and core values.

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