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Fall 2016


A Newsletter from the Office of Academic Engagement


Texas Tech’s annual assessment of its community engagement and outreach activities via Raiders Engaged is currently underway. Faculty and staff are asked to report any teaching, research, creative or service activities conducted for or in partnership with individuals or organizations outside of the university during AY’16 - whether at the local, state, national, or international level. The survey will remain open for entries until December 1, 2016.  Data gathered provides valuable measures for Priority 4, Further Outreach and Engagement, of Texas Tech’s Strategic Plan, “Making It Possible." Faculty will have their responses automatically uploaded into Digital Measures. For further information and to access the survey, click here.



Under the theme “Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service: What Does it Mean and Why Does it Matter?” faculty and staff from higher education institutions across Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico will gather on Feb. 21 and 22, 2017 at Texas Tech University to share theories, principles, and practices for engaging with local, state, national, and international communities.  The two-day event will be held at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center and include a keynote presentation by Dr. Andy Furco, Associate Vice President for Public Engagement at the University of Minnesota. TTU faculty and staff are invited to submit proposals for concurrent sessions that will inform or advance the understanding and practice of Community Engagement and Campus-Community Partnerships.   For more information and to submit a proposal, click here.



Design, Landscape Architecture Departments Combine to Fight Childhood Obesity



Project Leaders: Charles Klein, Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture (College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources). Kristi Gaines, Director of Graduate Programs, Department of Design (College of Human Sciences). 

A key component in the ongoing fight against childhood obesity is giving children a safe, innovative and fun place to play. In some instances, that can be a struggle. A collaboration at Texas Tech University between the Department of Design and the Department of Landscape Architecture is aiming to change that. Through the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) developed at North Carolina State University, the two Texas Tech departments are spearheading OLE! Texas, a multidisciplinary project that will create early childhood promotion strategies by renovating childcare center Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE).

Kristi Gaines and Charles Klein are spearheading the effort at Texas Tech. Along with other local partners, they are designing plans to transform the play space at selected childcare centers so that children and families have an exciting and stimulating OLE. The program’s first project in Texas is being done in Lubbock at a local child care center. “This is a great opportunity for Texas Tech to partner with state agencies, other universities and professional organizations to promote child health,” said Kristi Gaines. “I am eager to learn from and work alongside such an accomplished group of professionals.”

“I’m excited also to work with the Department of Design and the stage that this project will set for future collaborative research opportunities, both applied and scientific” said Charles Klein. The hope is that this project will make Texas Tech’s collaboration the model demonstration center for other child care centers in Texas.  Link to full article (Author: George Watson).

Theatre and Dance in the Community

Project Leaders: Mark Charney, Director, School of Theatre and Dance; Linda Donahue, Associate Director, School of Theatre and Dance (College of Visual and Performing Arts)

The School of Theatre and Dance instituted a school-wide community engagement course almost three years ago that features after-school theatre/dance activities in under-served areas of Lubbock both on and off campus. Students in every program (BA, BFA, MA, MFA, PhD) enroll in the required service-learning course. The graduate students, who study the theoretical aspects of arts-based community outreach, mentor undergraduates in leading semester-long arts activities, and the two classes exist simultaneously.

“This course is one-of-a kind,” says Linda Donahue. “We haven’t learned of another university which requires full participation from all students to a community-wide effort. We have 70 graduate students and 130 undergrads who will participate in this course at some point during their time at TTU. ” Dr. Donahue helped to originate the graduate section of this class, and continues to work actively in the community. “Our belief is that, while we appreciate service-learning components IN the classroom, we want entire classes dedicated to “making Lubbock our campus,” and to prove to students the value of actually sharing their knowledge and affection of theatre and dance with the community. We’ve actually found that the Theatre/Dance in the Community Class is widely popular with our present students and acts as a positive recruiting tool for all of our programs,” adds Mark Charney, Director of the School of Theatre and Dance. In its third year, the class generally enrolls 7-10 graduate students and 15-20 undergraduates that allows for an intimate ratio between the graduate “mentors” and the mentees.

Photos by Hannah Jo Anderson and Cathy Jung.                                                          

Prior to the beginning of the semester, instructors make connections with Lubbock community agencies that seek after-school arts activities. Recent partners include the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research, Covenant Children’s Hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs, Dunbar College Preparatory Academy, Ervin Elementary, Hutchinson Jr. High, and the Guadalupe and Parkway Centers. “Our entire theatre and dance faculty embraced the idea of this class which was originally proposed by Dr. Norman Bert,” says Charney. “We are committed to making a difference in the community by doing what we do best—theatre and dance. During the past three years, we have realized that our efforts are changing lives through the arts, and all our students are learning valuable lessons about giving back to society and promoting the restorative power of the arts.” 

The unique program has evolved in the last three years into a signature event for the School. “At first this endeavor seemed daunting,” states Donahue, “but we are committed. Our go-to saying is ‘If this were easy, everyone would do it,’ and now we are promoting this program to other universities as a model for important service learning and impactful community engagement.” (Authors: Linda Donahue and Mark Charney).

To submit a story for TTU's Engagement Spotlight, please contact Dr. Birgit Green, Director, Office of Academic Engagement;; or call (806)834-2308.



Feb 28, 2023