Center for Social Concerns Creates New Partnership with Engineering and Science

Author: Center for Social Concerns

John M. Guimond, Director, Communications

Center for Social Concerns

Tel (574) 631-3209


Center for Social Concerns Creates New Partnership with Engineering and Science

Designed to Better Serve Community Engagement Activities for Faculty and Students

The Center for Social Concerns (CSC), the College of Engineering, and the College of Science have created a new joint position to provide support for engineering and science faculty and students interested in sustaining and developing community engagement activities. Alisa Zornig was appointed in September to the newly created joint position of Coordinator for Academic Community Engagement. Alisa had previously served for seven years as the coordinator of Office Services at the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning at Notre Dame. She received a Master of Public Affairs with a Non-Profit Administration and Policy concentration from Indiana University South Bend. In her new role, Alisa will work to connect science and engineering faculty and students with community partners and community-based learning and research experts at the CSC to develop projects and courses.

In announcing the new partnership Peter Kilpatrick, Ph.D., Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering, said, “Through this partnership with the College of Science and the Center for Social Concerns, we look forward to a deeper engagement with the South Bend region, working together to solve challenging problems, while providing new educational opportunities through community based learning and research for Notre Dame and local K–12 students alike.”

Jay B. Brockman, Ph.D., associate dean of Engineering for Educational Programs who was instrumental in creating the partnership said, “Engineering's mission is to be in direct service to humankind in applying technology to improve the quality of life in all communities.”

“In the College of Science, community engagement is a core focus of the faculty, students, and staff,” according to Gregory Crawford, Ph.D., William K. Warren II Foundation Dean, Professor of Physics. This partnership will enrich our efforts to provide an impactful education that will resonate beyond the classroom. By combining the College’s commitment to fostering STEM education initiatives in the community and its dedication to providing an unsurpassed undergraduate education for science students, we look forward to a significant and meaningful partnership with the Center for Social Concerns.”

The coordinator also assists science and engineering faculty with their “broader impact” components for National Science Foundation proposals and serves as the administrative contact for community partners interested in science and engineering community engagement. This initiative includes the development of a database of University community engagement activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and their outcomes for tracking and sustainability.

“Science and engineering faculty seek large federal grants that more and more require evidence of contribution within local communities,” notes Mary Beckman, Ph.D., associate director for Academic Affairs and Research at the CSC. “Through this new position, the Center will be able to assist faculty in identifying community partners for their work as well as in documenting and tracking effects of the work within collaborating communities.” Because of its expertise in community-based pedagogies, the Center is also available to assist science and engineering faculty in incorporating students into the work in ways that enhance the meaningfulness of their educational experience.

In her new role Ms. Zornig works closely with Annie Cahill Kelly, director of Community Partnerships and Service Learning at the CSC to maintain and enhance community partnerships through assessing current collaboration and goals, exploring future engagements, and maintaining relationships with organizations that afford Notre Dame students learning opportunities.

Ms. Cahill Kelly explains the value of this new position in relation to Notre Dame’s community partners. “Alisa’s work enhances our existing partnerships and allows the Center for Social Concerns to deepen and expand our collaborative work with the local South Bend community.”