ACU and DePaul University united at Conference on Service-Learning

The Conference on “Community Engagement and Service-Learning: Pandemic, Pivots and Potentials”, was held in October 2021, and aimed to explore the current ‘state of play’ for universities in responding to the challenges and opportunities for service-learning and university-community engagement in a ‘post-COVID’ world, while taking the time to reflect on the responses and learnings from the efforts of the field during the pandemic.

Over 200 delegates from across the world joined the online conference to explore these challenges and opportunities with presenters sharing insights, ideas and learnings from a time like no other.

In the tradition of coming together and sharing cultures the conference also featured performances from The Duribang Ganjiyil Indigenous Dance Group (Quandamooka country) and Tai Pu Manawa Kapa Haka dance group (Brisbane Bayside) from Australia, and Kuumba Lynx dance group from Chicago. Delegates also participated in a ‘Cultural Cuisine Cook-off’, sharing recipes for Aussie treats such as Lamingtons and ANZAC biscuits and Chicago classics such as Biscuits and Gravy and Pepper and Egg Sandwiches.

The conference also hosted the first virtual community engagement and service-learning conversation between students of DePaul (USA) and ACU (Australia), supported university by the Uniservitate programme. The 90-minute discussion session was an opportunity for students to share their perspectives, knowledge, learnings, and experiences across national and local contexts. Co-facilitated by students and staff from both organisations, the session was a great success with rich discussion and collaboration.

Throughout the conference Accenture, a leading global consulting and technology firm, facilitated design thinking activities in which delegates contributed their thoughts, ideas, and challenges to the design thinking process. This included appreciative inquiry, affinity clustering, and design matrices.

The successful conference already has Matthew Pink, Associate Director, ACU Engagement, looking forward to the next conference in 2023.

“Our second conference was a great success and provided an opportunity to explore the challenges, opportunities, and learnings for community engagement and service-learning during the pandemic. Students and community members had more involvement than ever before, as well as academics from Catholic and Secular institutions globally. This has led to important shared knowledge production and directions. I look forward to seeing how the 2023 conference develops.”


For more information about the conference, including abstracts, presentation slides and conference outputs visit:

Source: Australian Catholic University (ACU)



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