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08 June 2023

United States of America

Mt. Carmel Field Station

Mt. Carmel Field Station

Partnership Category:

External partnerships on an Institutional level – e.g. community partnerships (such as with local government, with business associations, with NGOs)

Name of Partner:

Mt. Carmel, PA

Name of Partnership:

Mt. Carmel Field Station

Primary purpose:

Purposes of community engagement

Secondary purpose:

Enhance SDG integration into curriculum

Contact for this partnership:

Neil Boyd

Practical involvement:

The Coal Region Field Station (CRFS) was established in spring 2015 in partnership with the Mother Maria Kaupas Center in Mount Carmel. Working with partners throughout the Lower Anthracite Coal Region, the CRFS seeks to provide a structure for faculty, students, and staff to collaborate with community partners on a variety of initiatives connected with community revitalization, local histories and heritage, and future directions. This engagement ranges from community-based research or service learning through courses, short- and long- term research projects, internships, and volunteering, with an objective to link projects together over time and different types of engagement for more robust experiences and outcomes for both students and community partners. The CRFS is housed in Bucknell’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment as part of the broader work related to sustainable communities through the Place Studies program.

Benefits of this partnership to the institution as a PRME Champion:

This partnership allows us to engage our students in community learning in tangible ways - it is a 'practical lab' of sorts.

Benefits of this partnership to the partner institution(s):

Community members shared that initially there was much Skepticism & Resistance, and that locals had been promised many things without delivery in the past. Naysayers were omnipresent, pessimism pervaded public discourse, and many citizens opined about the glory days of the past, and had no hope for the future. By contrast, they noted that Bucknell students and professors had helped to spark Hope and a collective will to change. Some respondents said the energy of the students was contagious, that attitudes were changing in the community, and that projects helped to as a rising tide to lift all boats.

Respondents shared that Bucknell Professors and Students Can Actually Help. Many citizens said they were impressed by Bucknell and the projects, that professors and students can do many useful things, and that they grassroots efforts onto the town agenda. They argued that students have Power and Assets that they bring to the table. Students see things through “child’s eyes,” a willingness and energy to see forward, they are open, caring, and they listen, and they have management knowledge and skills that some local do not have. They also argued that the Prestige of Bucknell Matters. The brand-name of Bucknell is associated with quality, and that quality is assumed, and more importantly, been verified by working with Bucknell members.

From an operational perspective, community members noted that Central Figures in the Community are important. The presence and action of Father Moran, and especially Jake Betz, as central nodes for organizing and aligning projects between Bucknell and appropriate community members/entities is crucial. Many respondents said that Jake was a mover and shaker, and that a central “point person” in the community is necessary for an efficient and effective partnership. They also shared that Chaining of Projects & Incrementalism is important. Small changes led to bigger ones, it helps citizens see that progress is occurring toward a goal, and as projects build over time, some felt that it helped to produce a tipping point for change. Finally, respondents mentioned that specific Aspects of the Client-Student-Professor Engagement were important. They felt that community clients needed to be responsive to students, that consistent communication between faculty, Jake, and the partners was needed, and that the students were perceived as “professionals.” They also shared that sometimes they worked hard to pitch projects to Bucknell that were not selected, and that some projects did not specifically fit realities in the community and the tenor of local politics.

Respondents also felt that many Direct Impacts were produced for the community. They said the food pantry showed real improvement, the recreation committee was a tangible success, and the opening of the pool was almost a dare that could not be overcome. Several individuals said the pool re-opening would not have happened without Bucknell.

Duration of partnership:

This partnership was established in 2015 and it is ongoing.

Communications about this partnership:

https://digitalcommons.bucknell.edu/coal-region-field-station/

https://www.bucknell.edu/news/bucknells-freeman-college-embodies-united-nations-principles-responsible-management

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