UMBC BreakingGround Grants (Next deadline 5/30)

UMBC’s BreakingGround initiative awards grants of $500 to $2,000 to UMBC faculty and student organizations to implement educational and community-building courses and programs that foster civic agency: the capacity to initiate and make meaningful contributions to social change. Click here to view the grant application.

Examples of BreakingGround funded courses include:
Mapping Baybrook: Arts, History, and Culture in the Classroom and Community (Nicole King and Stephen Bradley)
Mill Stories (Bill Shrewbridge and Michelle Stefano)
Race, Poverty and Gender in Baltimore (Jodi Kelber-Kaye)
Space and Place in Public Art and Urbanism (Preminda Jacob)
Engineers Without Borders (Lee Blaney)
Theater of Lived Experience (Alan Kreizenbeck)
Studies in Feminist Activism (Kate Drabinski)
Environmental Justice (Dawn Biehler)
Power, Place and Identity (Theodore Gonzalves)
Impacting Baltimore through Engineering (Panos Charalambides)
West Side Stories: Public History and Urban Revitalization (Denise D. Meringolo)
Learning from Older Americans (Carolyn Forestiere)
Technological Solutions for Accessibility (Amy Hurst)

This application must be connected to a UMBC office, department or recognized student organization. Funds are awarded by the BreakingGround Course or Project Grant Committees. We seek proposals that reflect BreakingGround themes and help to position participants make meaningful contributions to the campus and/or surrounding community.

The BreakingGround Course Committee and Project Grant Committee are available to help applicants at all stages of their proposal writing process. The committees can help applicants with brainstorming (for those who are early in their planning process) and refining proposal drafts.

BreakingGround Faculty Breakfast/Get-together (4/4)

BreakingGround has heard from faculty interested in integrating civic engagement into their courses and research that it is helpful to have a forum to share ideas, ask questions, and build connections with other faculty doing the same work. Over the past few semesters, faculty have been coming together for these conversations from across the campus to discuss their teaching, research, and connections in the community. Faculty interested in or already engaged in this work are invited to stop by on Friday, April 4th between 10am and 12pm. Faculty who are doing research related to civic agency and engagement will also talk about teaching strategies and issues, as well as workshop ideas for proposed new courses.

Please RSVP to if you are interested in attending this get-together, or to ask any questions. Our location will be the Honors College Conference Room, 2nd floor Library, on Friday, April 4th from 10a-12p. A light breakfast will be served.

BreakingGround lunch invitation (11/1)

BreakingGround organizers have heard from faculty interested in integrating civic engagement into their courses and research that it would be helpful to have a forum to share ideas, ask questions and build connections with other faculty doing similar work.

BreakingGround Lunch Meeting
Friday, November 1
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Dresher Center Conference Room
Performing Arts and Humanities Building (2nd floor)
Lunch served

Please RSVP to if you are interested in attending.

In addition to providing a chance for open conversation and Q&A, this lunch is an opportunity for faculty and staff who are attending the Imagining America Conference at Syracuse University to share what they learn from other universities about how to practice and enable publicly engaged scholarship.

Looking Forward from the 45th Anniversary of the Catonsville Nine Actions (5/10)

In May of 1968, nine individuals shook the conscience of the nation as they burned U.S. Selective Service records with homemade napalm on the grounds of the Catonsville, Maryland Knights of Columbus hall. The fire they started erupted into an infamous trial and influenced similar dynamic actions across the country.

The UMBC community is invited to a Social Science Forum exploring this action, and the trial that followed, on Friday, May 10th, at 2:30 p.m. in the Proscenium Theater (Performing Arts and Humanities Building). Joining us will be a panel of scholars, activists and two members of the Catonsville Nine. The event, cosponsored by the Department of American Studies will feature a film screening (3:00 p.m.) and dialogue (4:30 p.m.).

For more information on the project and to hear a WYPR interview with organizer Theodore Gonzalves (chair of American Studies), see the BreakingGround blog.

Baltimore Sun Features UMBC Faculty, Students in Front-Page BreakingGround Story

BreakingGround Sun storyToday’s Baltimore Sun features a front-page story about students in two UMBC courses shedding light on the human side of Baltimore’s industrial past. The students, guided by New Media Studio director Bill Shewbridge and American Studies folklorist in residence Michelle Stefano, are helping tell the stories of steelworkers from the now-defunct Sparrows Point Steel Mill, which once employed thousands. The mill has been shuttered and is being sold for scrap.

The oral history project is supported by a BreakingGround course development grant. The article also describes several other BreakingGround courses and projects through which people from UMBC are solving problems and working with community partners to make innovative contributions to the common good. For additional details on BreakingGround, see the project website, myUMBC group or #digUMBC on Twitter.

Kaylesh Ramu ’13, Political Science, in Education Week Blog

Earlier this week, UMBC SGA President Kaylesh Ramu ’13, political science, shared the stage with the U.S. Under Secretary of Education and other leaders at the National Press Club as they launched Shaping Our Future, a new national civic engagement initiative (watch video).

Education Week covered the event, quoting Ramu on the role of college students as active agents of change in their communities, on campus and beyond. “We are starting to have a culture change and understand that we all bring about what is UMBC,” said Ramu, describing the ethos that grounds UMBC’s new BreakingGround initiative, which launched last week.

Shaping Our Future is a year-long national dialogue on the future of higher education. Ramu has been involved through her membership on the board of the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP), a national alliance supporting innovative approaches to civic education and strong connections between universities and communities. President Hrabowski serves on ACP’s Presidents’ Advisory Council and UMBC staff David Hoffman, Michele Wolff and Craig Berger serve with Ramu on the national board.

UMBC’s New BreakingGround Initiative in the Baltimore Sun

On campus, the good side of politics” is new Baltimore Sun op-ed written by David Hoffman, UMBC Assistant Director of Student Life for Civic Agency, and SGA President Kaylesh Ramu ’13, political science.

Hoffman and Ramu offer hope to readers who are “understandably skeptical about politics and public life” in this time of government gridlock and discord. They write that at UMBC, “students are helping lead the way to a new kind of politics that bridges difference and strengthens communities.”

The piece goes on to explore the civic engagement work underway at UMBC—carried forward by the BreakingGround initiative—as well as its roots in our campus culture and its implications for our broader democracy. Comments? Offer your thoughts, post your questions and share your experiences on the BreakingGround blog.