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New Civic Engagement Studios to Promote Learning in Service

Inaugural effort to focus on four projects

Four faculty and
staff-led group proposals for year-long social change projects in Durham and
abroad will receive funding from the Duke Center for Civic Engagement (DCCE) as
part of the university's inaugural set of Civic Engagement Studios. 

Winners are
using theater and art to convey civic themes; to translate dialogue on topics
such as violence and entrepreneurship among historically disenfranchised
Muslims and to encourage community members to take civic ownership of Durham

applications were of extraordinary quality, reflecting the Duke community's
high interest in effecting social change and awareness in creative ways,"
said Leela Prasad, the faculty director of the DCCE and associate professor of
Ethics & South Asian Studies in the Department of Religion.  "It is especially exciting, given
that this is only the first year. The promise of these studios is that they
will be instrumental in shaping how we imaginatively and responsibly think
about, and engage in, civically oriented practice."

A new initiative
of the DCCE, studios are small interdisciplinary groups of faculty, students
and non-Duke community partners who will collaborate on various civic challenges
during the 2011-2012 academic year and recommend action plans.  The teams consist of a faculty or staff
member, undergraduates and/or graduate students and a non-Duke community member. 

The DCCE, which
connects university education to public service, will contribute up to $7,000 in funding to each studio for meetings, travel,
group readings and discussions and other expenses. Studios will connect to
undergraduate and graduate courses, and events will be open to the public.

Ebrahim Moosa, professor in the Department of Religion,
and Saadia Yacoob, a graduate
student in Religion, will lead "Virtual Dialogues: ‘Subaltern' Voices in
Transnational Civic Engagement." 

"The studio
will provide us a space to host virtual dialogue that intends to connect
leaders, social activists and NGOs at the ground level across Muslim cultures
and societies," Moosa said. "The idea is to make visible
conversations with people whose views are not often heard on diverse topics
ranging from poverty, violence and entrepreneurship to health policy and the
place of religion in their lives and work."

Nina Prieur and
Torry Bend
, assistant professors in theater studies, will lead "Project
Sojourn," a studio that will use dance performances to facilitate
conversations between students and community members so that students can learn
more about Durham's history. 

"We are
looking forward to working in collaboration with faculty and students from
across the university and residents from throughout the city of Durham to
explore how performance may enable us to forge new connections and engage in
different kinds of conversation with one another," Prieur said.

"Race and
Recreation: A Collaborative, Community-Based Study of Gentrification,
Privatization, and Urban Parks in Durham" will be led by Fred Moten, an associate professor of
English, Mara Kaufman, a lecturer in
the writing program, and Fernande Legros
from the Hart Leadership program. This studio will strategize how Durham's
public parks can used as sites to re-energize community ties with public spaces
and allow community members to gain confidence in pushing for overall city
policy changes to better their living environment.

LeAnne Disla, the outreach coordinator for the
Consortium for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, will lead a studio called
"'Freedom's Story' through Murals" collaborating with Durham Public
Schools and senior citizen communities in Durham. Members of this studio will collaborate
with community partners to create oral-history based public murals related to
the concept at Durham Public Schools that will follow with a documentation of
local histories from Durham residents.

engagement is one of our strategic educational priorities," said Steve
Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. "These studios
promise to be an innovative way to build teams of undergraduates, graduate
students, professors, staff and community members to tackle real-world issues."

For more
information about Civic Engagement Studios, see the DCCE website.