Community of Practice

In February 2018, NC Campus Compact launched a community of practice, inquiry, and learning (COPIL). North Carolina has a long history of innovative community engagement work in communities and on campuses across the state. COPIL enables us to leverage that experience, deepen our understanding of the complexities and possibilities at the heart of community engagement, enhance the processes and the impacts of our work, and further our leadership within the SLCE movement.

We are partnering on this initiative with the Service-Learning and Community Engagement Future Directions Project (SLCE-FDP; Co-facilitated by SLCE thought leaders Edward Zlotkowski, Sarah Stanlick, Jeffrey Howard, and NC’s own Patti Clayton. The SLCE-FDP is an international learning community with the primary objectives of (a) supporting everyone involved in SLCE in thinking creatively and collaboratively about our work, now and into the future, particularly as related to the concept of community, the work of communities, and the dynamics of democratic civic engagement and (b) contributing meaningfully to enriching and shaping the SLCE movement, especially in accordance with co-created priorities around this community orientation. NCCC and SLCE-FDP have collaborated on a range of activities over the past 4 years, including facilitating multi-partner thinking across the state about the past, present, and future of community-campus engagement at various conferences and other gatherings; over 20% of the contributors to the SLCE-FDP to date come from NC.

The initial group of individuals invited to participate were faculty and staff recipients of NC Campus Compact community engagement awards since 2006, NC Campus Compact Engaged Faculty Scholars , and curators of and contributors to the SLCE-FDP. The group is currently exploring a process to expand participation.

COPIL meets monthly, primarily through Zoom, with one in-person meeting per quarter. Each COPIL gathering is designed to include Community Building, Inquiry & Learning, then Planning/Next Steps.

2020 Project

For 2020, COPIL formed a project team to develop a Primer on the Benefits and Value of Civic and Community Engagement in Higher Education. While there are increasing attacks on the relevance of higher education, at the same time, the persistent social challenges we face as a nation and world, continue to escalate. As a result, we believe this is the time for higher education not to retreat but to deepen their commitment to their public purposes and efforts to partner with local communities.  This tool is intended to provide relevant information to make the case for investing in SLCE.  The project team began meeting in January 2020 and released the Primer in February 2021.

2018 Project

In fall 2018, an article co-created by COPIL members “Social Justice In Service-Learning And Community Engagement: A Conversation About Meanings, Practices, And Possibilities,” was published in the book Critical Intersections In Contemporary Curriculum & Pedagogy Edited by: Laura Jewett, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Freyca Calderon-Berumen, The Pennsylvania State University-Altoona; and Miryam Espinosa-Dulanto, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. (Info Age Pub) COPIL members have also given multiple presentation on our work for state and national conferences.

COPIL goals:

Inspire progress in our field by:

    • Promoting the use of democratic processes in civic engagement programming
    • Advancing social justice in the communities that we serve

Bring a range of diverse perspectives together to engage in dialogue about the following topics:

      • Effective and intentional engagement in community partnerships
      • Social Justice in the context in various community and academic settings
      • How to engage non-academic voices in creating effective, sustainable civic engagement programming that is responsive and appropriate for addressing genuine community needs.
      • Dualism and Dichotomy of language surrounding “campus” and “community”
  • Provide support to one another in deepening our practices in community engagement
  • Promote collaborative work and dialogue across a variety of academic and community contexts
  • Create physical (tangible) outcomes of our work that share our knowledge with others in the field that are collaboratively facilitated with non-academic voices.



COPIL members at the 2018 Summer retreat meeting at Western Carolina University with service-learning pioneer, Bob Sigmon. 

Current 2020 members:

Leslie Garvin, NC Campus Compact, co-facilitator
Patti Clayton, SLCE consultant, co-facilitator
Maggie Commins, Queens University of Charlotte, co-facilitator
Kathleen Edwards, UNC Greensboro, co-facilitator

Jennifer Ahern-Dodson, Duke University
Jim Cook, UNC Charlotte
Bob Frigo, Elon University
Danielle Lake, Elon University
Melissa Lyon, Fayetteville State University
Cara Kozma, High Point University
Kelly Misiak, Pfeiffer University
Mary Morrison, Elon University
Ryan Nilsen, UNC Chapel Hill
Tony Patterson, NC Central University
Lane Perry, Western Carolina University
Allison Walker, High Point University
Catherine Wright, Wingate University