BreakingGround Initiatives Highlighted in Diversity & Democracy

breakingground_fnlBeverly Bickel, associate director of Language, Literacy and Culture doctoral program, Craig Berger, and David Hoffman, Student Life, were published in the latest edition of Diversity & Democracy, a publication by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

In the article, Bickel, Berger and Hoffman write about the democratic strands in UMBC’s history and how BreakingGround initiatives are fostering civic engagement and imaginative thinking. They describe how transparency and authenticity created spaces for positive contributions, saying “[BreakingGround’s] philosophy emphasized that individuals and collaborative groups are powerful agents of meaningful change, and that students deserve genuine respect as agents in their own lives and as partners in building community.”

Another article in the issue written by Timothy Eatman and Scott Peters, co-directors of Imagining America, praises the initiatives fostered by BreakingGround. “UMBC is suggesting answers to the questions… about what should be done—not just for relatively new public institutions, but across all of higher education,” they write.

Click here to read “Democratic Agency and the Visionary’s Dilemma” by Beverly Bickel, Craig Berger and David Hoffman.

David Hoffman, Student Life, Publishes Chapter in Democracy’s Education

david_hoffman_300x375David Hoffman, assistant director of student life for civic agency, wrote a chapter in the recently published Democracy’s Education: Public Work, Citizenship and the Future of Colleges and Universities. The book challenges educators to rethink the meaning of citizenship and education.

Hoffman’s chapter, entitled “Fostering Civic Agency by Making Education (and Ourselves) ‘Real,'” describes the philosophy of BreakingGround, a collaborative approach to innovative campus and community engagement at UMBC. Hoffman draws on his research and experience at UMBC, focusing on students who gained civic agency by causing meaningful change on campus through launching new organizations and engaging in purposeful conversations. The chapter also mentions work done by President Hrabowski, Provost Rous, the Shriver Center and The Retriever Project.

Hoffman writes, “The process at BreakingGround’s heart is a series of real conversations. There is strategy and design behind them: the initiative’s organizers have sought out people on campus who have seemed to embrace or demonstrate civic agency, or who have been in a position to help support its promotion on campus. But the conversations have been essentially free of maneuvering and salesmanship. Mostly we have asked students, faculty, and staff about their own experiences with civic agency (though typically not in those words) and have sought to make the road to BreakingGround’s objectives by walking it with them.”

Click here to learn more about BreakingGround. Learn more about Democracy’s Education here.

UMBC’s BreakingGround Featured in AASCU Monograph

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) released a new monograph entitled Becoming a Steward of Place: Four Areas of Institutional Focus. A section of the publication focuses on civic learning and engagement and uses UMBC’s BreakingGround as a model for creating seamless learning environments.

“BreakingGround [is] a campus-wide initiative uniting students, faculty and staff in fostering changes in the academic curriculum, co-curricular activities and campus culture,” the report states. “Students taking BreakingGround courses, participating in BreakingGround programs, and sharing stories on the BreakingGround website are learning to: think entrepreneurially about social challenges, work collectively to bridge differences, and contribute meaningfully to the common good. This work is supported by a campus culture that builds community from diversity and celebrates ingenuity and resourcefulness.”

To learn more about BreakingGround’s work, visit their website. Click here for more details on Becoming a Steward of Place: Four Areas of Institutional Focus.

BreakingGround Faculty Lunch/Get-Together (10/24)

Over the past few semesters, faculty have been coming together from across campus to discuss their teaching, research, and connections in the community.  We have 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.

Please RSVP to if you are interested in attending this get-together, or to ask any questions.   Our location will be the University Center, Room 312, on Friday, October 24 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. A light lunch will be served.  

Also, applications are open for BreakingGround grant support for courses and projects for Spring 2015.  More information is available online including descriptions of previous funded courses and projects.
Please invite other faculty you believe would be interested in exploring how to infuse opportunities for student civic agency and civic engagement into their work to come to the lunch and to consider applying for a BreakingGround grant.

TEDxUMBC (9/13)

We are excited to announce TEDxUMBC, in partnership with the BreakingGround, Honors College, Graduate Student Association, and Interdisciplinary Studies at UMBC! The event will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 10am-4pm at the University Center (UC) Ballroom. The day’s program will consist of 10 live speakers, including members of the UMBC community, as well as from the local Baltimore area.

There are only 100 spots available for attendees, so buy your tickets soon! Tickets will be $5 for UMBC Students and $10 for General Admission – there will be a small additional fee of less than $2 for buying tickets online.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Lee Blaney, Faculty Member
  • Tanvi Gadhia, Alumna and Staff Member
  • Patrick Jenkins, Undergraduate Student
  • Yoo-Jin Kang, Undergraduate Student
  • George Kosmides, Community Member
  • Stephen Marengo, Staff Member
  • Kimberly Moffitt, Faculty Member
  • Tamara Peters, Faculty Member
  • Rafay Qureshi, Undergraduate Student
  • Stacy Branham, Associate Research Scientist

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.