Under the auspices of the Tulane Center for Public Service, student leaders will emerge this semester in a new program designed to address issues of cultural sensitivity outside the classroom.
Rebecca Mark, left, faculty director for the Community Engagement Advocates program, listens as students Emily Cardinas, center, and Preston Mills, right, discuss their work in the community. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)
"We realized that students need to engage in conversations on issues of diversity and inclusion, especially as it relates to civic engagement off campus," says Vincent Ilustre, executive director of the center.
To that end, the Community Engagement Advocates
program was launched with funds from the Association of American Colleges and Universities Bring Theory to Practice Project
Six students, all gifted with a diplomatic nature and a passion for public service, have been named as the first group of advocates. Ariel Bernstein, Preston Mills, Emily Cardinas, Chinonso Emetuche, Elinor Chambers and Sheldon Hitchens will lead discussions about issues of diversity and inclusion with fellow students through a series of workshops and in more informal settings.
Cardinas, a sophomore from Los Angeles, is looking forward to the challenge of being an advocate.
“I'm very excited to be part of this new pilot program,” says Cardinas. “Personally, I'm hoping that we are able to facilitate these discussions outside of service-learning classrooms, so that we can invite not just students, but community partners and community members to engage in a dialogue.”
Rebecca Mark, associate professor of English, serves as the faculty director for the program. Mark will provide leadership in the design, development and assessment of the program curricula and develop administrative systems and procedures for the Community Engagement Advocates.
“Any program that works in the community, especially one as large as the Center for Public Service, has to take time to insure that professors and students understand the delicate and complex issue of cultural awareness,” explains Mark. “We can always learn to become more empathic, more sensitive and more knowledgeable.”