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Center for Civic Engagement

The Engaged Scholar

Spring 2019

It has been an excellent year for student and faculty engagement with our communities on the Palouse and beyond.  In this edition of the Engaged Scholar you will read about some of those successes and accomplishments.

Transformative Learning Experiences

During the Spring 2019 semester, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) at Washington State University facilitated academic service learning experiences for more than two thousand undergraduate students, taught by thirty-six faculty from seven colleges. Participation in service learning partnerships prepares the next generation of leaders to be socially responsible citizens, actively shaping their democratic values and ideals, and gaining a deep sense of self and social belonging (Hullender, Hinck, Wood-Nartker, Burton, & Bowlby, 2015). 

Kara Whitman and Heather Green from the School of the Environment (SOE) led 15 WSU undergraduate students in SOE 492 on a global service learning trip to Ecuador in collaboration with Green Empowerment.  Over five days in rural Ecuador, WSU students and faculty installed five Biodigester bag systems to be later connected to household plumbing and animal pens to reduce the waste contamination of the local river.  The Biodigester systems prevent contamination while also producing fertilizer for crops and methane gas that can be used for heating and cooking.

Students also had the enriching experience of socializing and developing relationships with the people their work impacted—people living in rural Ecuador. Students shared personal stories, experienced the local culture, and ate home-cooked meals together. In addition, they learned about locally made goods, the challenges associated with marketing those goods, and reflected upon their shared experience. This service learning experience led a participant, Samantha, to pursue joining the Peace Corps. Hilary and Danielle, other participants on the trip, plan to return to Ecuador to participate in a second trip with Green Empowerment to continue the work.  According to Breitkreuz and Songer (2015), using critical reflection to compare our own culture to the culture of the people we work alongside provides an element of a truly transformative learning experience. WSU students and faculty made a sustainable impact on the environment and community while gaining an understanding of the social, political, and economic landscape of rural Ecuador.

students and biodigester

Discover Ecuador students (SOE 492) after installing a Biodigester.

Collaborative Discovery

College of Education graduate student Paulina Abustan has been active in community-based research throughout her graduate career. Her professional work is a great example of how research, service and teaching embodies the WSU’s land-grant mission on the Palouse. Paulina is doing feminist, ethnographic research that looks at the culture of multicultural inclusion in kindergarten-through-fifth-grade classrooms within Pullman School District (PSD). Her research identifies teaching best practices that includes diverse race, socioeconomic background, gender, sexuality, and disability identities in classroom interactions, pedagogies, and curriculums. Paulina has developed a strong partnership with PSD and has worked alongside teachers and administrators gathering data for her critical intersectional feminist ethnography. The knowledge gained from this research will benefit PSD’s learning environment and culture and has the potential to have a similar influence on classrooms across the country.

Molly Kelton, College of Education Assistant Professor and CCE Faculty Fellow, is collaborating with a team of WSU scholars on a five-year grant titled “Health Education through Arts-Based Learning (HEAL): A Partnership to Investigate Interdisciplinary Science Programs in Rural Communities.” This project is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), Grant Number 1R25GM129814-01, from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The collaborative team includes Jeb Owen from the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, Patricia Butterfield from the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Robert Danielson from the College of Education, and Alison White and AnaMaria Martinez from WSU’s Extension.  Faculty who promote community stewardship and develop research responsive to community needs typifies the community engagement advanced by Gavazzi and Gee in Land-Grant Universities of the Future (Gavazzi & Gee, 2018).

This team of engaged scholars designs research around community-identified needs in central Washington, currently in collaboration with two community partners: Buena Library in the Yakima Valley and Catholic Charities Housing. This project will have a measurable impact on improving health outcomes, public health understanding, and empowering underrepresented populations in the pursuit of healthy communities. The HEAL project will develop interdisciplinary curriculum and programs designed to advance education for young children (grades 3-5) and their families living in predominantly Latinx rural communities about the science of infectious disease. After the curriculum and programs are ready for distribution, the team will launch a website with free downloadable resources for educators and community members.

Molly Kelton with kids

Dr. Kelton and participants create and discuss scientific artwork at a community art show.

Enterprising Partnerships

The Pullman School District (PSD) has been an engaged community partner, co-educator of WSU students, and collaborator with the WSU Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) for more than 25 years. Since 2012, WSU students have engaged in more than 18,000 hours of service learning and civic engagement with PSD. In addition, the long-term partnership has the potential for even more discovery and engagement with WSU faculty, students, and staff. The WSU student experience is transformed by engaging with PSD students and staff, working together to meet community-identified needs, and expanding their knowledge by applying their learning in the community. Highlighted below are examples of a few outstanding service learning projects that represent the power of our land-grant community with intentional reciprocity and ongoing commitment to the betterment of our communities (Tinkler, Tinkler, Hausman & Strouse, 2014).

Over the past three semesters, Landscape Architecture Faculty Michael Sanchez, Jolie Kaytes, and Jena Jauchius led several service learning courses in the development of the Jefferson Elementary School Outdoor Learning Lab and the design of the Lincoln Middle School Garden. These progressive course projects built upon the design and planning of the previous course each semester. The students and faculty maintained consistent communication with PSD regarding the direction of the project and applied the input of new ideas as the design became a reality. Danny Villagrana, Landscape Architecture student said, “Working on projects like the Jefferson outdoor learning lab puts in perspective the impact that I am making on the next generation. Having these projects make it more than just a grade, it makes the work feel more important.”  According to Jena Jauchius, students’ design and construction work reduced the costs by at least $35,000. Meg Gollnick, Jefferson Elementary Parent Teacher Association President and PSD parent stated, “The Outdoor Learning Lab at Jefferson Elementary has been a seamless collaboration and this project would not have happened without the WSU faculty and students. This space will be an outdoor classroom that can house an entire grade level all at once. A key benefit of the collaboration is it helps us do more with our limited funds.”

student presenting

Landscape Architecture student presenting design concepts for the Jefferson Elementary outdoor learning lab.


In 2015, College of Education graduate student Paulina Abustan and Jefferson Elementary teacher Sandra Pagan-Rivera initiated the “Morning Tutoring Program” in response to a rapid increase of students who need additional and intentional academic support. This program provides WSU student resources to support one-on-one instruction in reading, writing, math, learning/practicing the English language. According to Paulina, “Having a WSU tutor allows K-5 students to learn and practice how to become open to and excited about learning and practicing topics they may usually struggle with.”  From January 2016 through December 2018, WSU students from multiple classes in multiple departments participated in more than 2,200 civic engagement hours with the Morning Tutoring Program, resulting in significant impacts for elementary school students, teachers, staff, and the district. 

In March 2019, Don Lee, Teaching & Learning adjunct faculty member, sixty Teaching and Learning 371 Science Methods undergraduate students, and multiple graduate students from across disciplines participated in the Franklin Elementary Science Fair as “project review scientists”. WSU students reviewed more than 400 projects, discussed projects with elementary students, and provided recommendations for future research. The elementary students appreciated the feedback they received and were elated to talk with a “real scientist” about their projects.

students at science fair

Teaching Elementary Science (T&L 371) students reviewing Franklin Elementary students' science fair projects.

CCE Faculty Fellows Fall Highlights

Congratulations to three CCE Faculty Fellows who received promotion this semester:

- Samantha Gizerian, WSU Pullman, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience

- Cassandra Gulam, WSU Vancouver, Clinical Associate Professor of Spanish Language and Culture; WSU Vancouver Program Leader

- John Lupinacci, WSU Pullman, Associate Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning

Janet Peters received a Smith Teaching and Learning Grant. Janet’s project is titled, “Teaching the Teachers: Developing the Instructional Practicum Course for Psychology”. The project aims to prepare a suite of instructional materials around high-impact practices such as learning communities, experiential learning, and capstone experiences to better prepare undergraduate teaching assistants for their role. In addition, Janet and her students were featured in the Daily Evergreen for their service learning project with Tri Cities Union Gospel Mission.

Engagement News

The CCE Community Partner Newsletter is now available.

The College and University Engagement Initiative (CUEI) is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Ernest A. Lynton Faculty Award in Engaged Scholarship.

Ryan Lazo and Jessica Perone led a facilitated discussion titled “Community-Campus Coalitions for Change” at the Western Region Campus Compact Continuums of Service conference in San Diego March 6-8, 2019.

Tiffanie Braun, CCE Assistant Director of Community Partnerships, was appointed to the NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Knowledge Community.

Landscape Architecture’s Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) proposes improvements to Pullman Airport. Landscape Architecture students reimagine Pullman.

Rebecca Cooney, Clinical Assistant Professor in The Murrow College of Communication, received the Oaks Academic Technology Award for innovative and transformative use of Google Drive in a service learning capacity.

Kara Whitman, Instructor in the School of the Environment, received the the 2019 Richard G. Law Excellence Award for Undergraduate Teaching.

WSU Center for Civic Engagement, UI Center for Teaching and Excellence, and UI Center for Volunteerism and Social Action collaboratively hosted the annual Campus Community Forum this spring on April 24, 2019 at the Courtyard Marriott Ballroom.

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting will be June 5-8, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. AASCU's American Democracy Project (ADP) and NASPA are committed to advancing the civic engagement movement in higher education.


Breitkreuz, K. R., & Songer, T. D. (2015). The Emerging 360 Degree Model for Global Citizenship Education. International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement,3(1), fall.

Gavazzi, S. M., & Gee, E. G. (2018). Land-grant Universities of the Future. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hullender, R., Hinck, S., Wood-Nartker, J., Burton, T., & Bowlby, S. (2015). Evidences of Tranformative Learning in Service-Learning Reflections. Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,15(4),grav 58-82.

Tinkler, A., Tinkler, B., Hausman, E., & Strouse, T. (2014). Key Elements of Effective Service-Learning Partnerships from the Perspective of Community Partners. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning & Civic Engagement,5(2), 137-152.