Below is a list of resources to help students connect to community-engaged learning and its benefits in a virtual setting. These are project ideas that can be done entirely online, requiring only an internet connection to complete. Whether you are making changes to an existing project that can't be done virtually or want to test the waters to see if community-engaged learning can benefit students in your course, there are resources here for a variety of disciplines.

If you have any questions on the resources below, send me an email at ryan.flynn@ic.edu.

 

Art

  • You Will Rise Project: The goal of the project is to provide a multimedia showcase for people of all ages who have been bullied to share their stories through art. Submissions can include visual art, poetry, song lyrics, short stories, etc.

Biology

  • Smithsonian Archive of American Gardens: Volunteers tag pre-scanned images of plants for useful information including structures, objects, and people to make the images more useful to catalogers in museums, archives, and libraries.
  • SciStarter: Has a database of college-level projects available in a variety of science-related topics.

English

  • Bookshare: Proofread scanned books that have been created for people with reading barriers.
  • LibriVox: LibriVox volunteers read and record chapters of books in the public domain (books no longer under copyright) in the USA, and make them available for free on the Internet.

Gender & Women Studies

GIS & Mapping

  • Missing Maps: Volunteers will help pinpoint roads and landmarks on pre-existing maps that will be useful for local NGOs and leaders to better help residents in need in vulnerable areas of developing countries.
  • New York Public Library: Building Inspector: The Library is training computers to recognize building shapes and other data on digitized insurance atlases. Via these easy, bite-sized tasks, you can help check the computers' work and capture other valuable information. Information will be used to develop blueprints for old neighborhoods and assist genealogists.
  • New York Public Library: Map Rectifier Project: This geo-rectification toolkit creates layered digital maps utilizing all of the available information from Google satellite images and centuries-old fire insurance land maps. Volunteers index information on how many floors a building once had or what street was named at different points in time.

Health, Well-Being, and Accessibility

  • Be My Eyes: Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.
  • Crisis Text Line: Volunteers provide crisis intervention and counseling services conducted exclusively through SMS text. Volunteers provide emotional support for texters dealing with a wide range of issues - bullying, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and more. Prospective volunteers go through a lengthy screening and training. Once complete volunteers sign up for one four-hour shift weekly. This is a good option for students interested in a long-term volunteer experience, not a one-off service project.
  • Library of Congress: Clara Barton: "Angel of the Battlefield" transcription project: Volunteers will transcribe the papers of Clara Barton, who is well known for providing healthcare to wounded soldiers during the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War in Europe, and for starting the American Red Cross.
  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN): RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. Online volunteers staff the National Sexual Assault hotline, providing resources, support, advice, and/or referrals to survivors of sexual violence. Volunteers must complete a training course and background check. This is a good option for students interested in a long-term volunteer experience, not a one-off service project.
  • SciStarter: Has a database of college-level projects available in a variety of science-related topics.
  • Trevor Project: TrevorSpace: Trevor Project is an online, social network for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24, and their friends and allies. Online volunteers monitor the TrevorSpace site in an effort to maintain a safe online space for young LGBTQ+ people. Training for online volunteers is provided quarterly.

History

  • Ancestry.com's World Archives Program: Volunteers will utilize free software to transcribe already scanned images and documents that will be posted to a free database for genealogists to utilize.
  • Anti-Slavery Manuscripts: Volunteers will transcribe correspondence between anti-slavery activists from the 19th century.
  • Freedom on the Move: Volunteers will transcribe 19th-century newspaper advertisements for runaway slaves.
  • Library of Congress: Rough Rider to Bull Moose: Letters to Theodore Roosevelt: Volunteers will transcribe letters received by and sent by President Theodore Roosevelt. Transcription of Theodore Roosevelt’s voluminous correspondence will shed light on the issues that came before him in both his public career and private life, and provide clues on how he hoped to be viewed by posterity.
  • Smithsonian Museum Digital Volunteers: Smithsonian digital volunteers work behind-the-scenes to transcribe and translate a variety of documents and collections, as well as identifying and organizing digital photo collections.

Human Rights & Advocacy

  • Amnesty Decoders: Operated by Amnesty International, digital volunteers conduct research into global human rights violations. Volunteers use digital technology to verify the location of oil spills, find evidence of drone strikes, and flag abusive tweets to women politicians in India, to name a few recent projects.

Music

  • Library of Congress: The Man Who Recorded the World: On the Road with Alan Lomax: Volunteers will transcribe the notebooks and letters of folklorist Alan Lomax, his family, fellow musicians, colleagues, and collaborators during the 20th century. Portions of the collection also contain Finnish, Hungarian, Polish, and French.

World Languages

  • Library of Congress: Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents: Volunteers able to speak Spanish and Latin will be able to transcribe legal papers pertaining to laws, statutes, instructions, and decrees of Spanish kings, government officials, and the Catholic Church ranging from 1300-1800.
  • Library of Congress: The Man Who Recorded the World: On the Road with Alan Lomax: Volunteers will transcribe the notebooks and letters of folklorist Alan Lomax, his family, fellow musicians, colleagues, and collaborators during the 20th century. Portions of the collection also contain Finnish, Hungarian, Polish, and French.
  • TED Translators: Volunteers add subtitles to TED talks to enable ideas to cross language barriers around the world.
  • Translators Without Borders: Volunteers who are fluent in at least one non-native language can volunteer to transcribe anything from medical texts to crisis response translations.

General Resources

These resources either host opportunities for multiple disciplines or are useful to multiple disciplines.

  • SciStarter: Has a database of college-level projects available in a variety of science-related topics.
  • United Nations Volunteers: An online platform hosted by the United Nations that connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Opportunities are varied and can connect to multiple disciplines and skill sets.
  • Wikimedia Foundation: Volunteers can provide editing and fact-checking services, utilize coding skills, and help improve search capabilities.
  • Zooniverse: The world's largest platform for people-powered research. Projects range from biological identification projects to historical record transcription.

Developing a sense of civic responsibility and connections to the larger community are critical components of a liberal arts education.  Direct engagement with community partners and service organizations is the optimal way to achieve these goals.  However, the ongoing Covid pandemic poses significant challenges in carrying out these activities. 

Students and faculty will not be able to participate in civic engagement activities at off-campus locations if they have not supplied proof of vaccination or are not regularly completing their twice-weekly required SHIELD testing (if unvaccinated).  No IC students, staff, or faculty who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be allowed to work directly with vulnerable populations such as children under 12 or adults over 65.  For projects that do not involve vulnerable populations, instructors should follow the guidelines of the hosting organization with respect to vaccination.  

To protect all members of the larger community, we will follow the same safety protocols at off campus sites as we do on campus: masks are required when indoors, maintain social distance when possible, practice regular hand hygiene, and stay home when feeling ill.   

In the event that a student is unable to complete the planned Civic Engagement activity, instructors should plan to provide alternatives that, as much as possible, meet comparable learning objectives and require comparable time and effort.

 

Community-Engaged Learning combines a student’s academic learning with hands-on practice that assists in addressing the needs of the surrounding community.

 

Mentor

Guiding others in their personal, professional development and learning

Examples:

  • Tutoring in an after-school program
  • Mentoring in a youth program
  • Teaching financial literacy in the greater community
  • Providing fine arts lessons to those who couldn’t otherwise access them
  • Coaching in a youth sports league

Advocate

Creating awareness and inspiring action on an issue that impacts the greater community

Examples:

  • Organizing a letter writing campaign
  • Hosting a voter registration drive
  • Leading or participating in a lobbying day

Research*

Gathering evidence, analyzing an issue, and informing action on issues that affect the greater community. (* Community-Based Research)

Examples:

  • Conducting research for a nonprofit that will help them better serve clients
  • Working on a community needs assessment for a broad need
  • Assisting with water tests in a local restoration area

Volunteer

Working to address the needs of the greater community, helping those in need however you can.

Examples:

  • Delivering meals to senior citizens
  • Working a nonprofit’s event
  • Sorting food at a local food bank
  • Walking dogs at an animal shelter
  • Painting a church
  • Hosting a blood drive or giving blood

Ryan Flynn '15

Director of Community-Engaged Learning

217.245.3630 | ryan.flynn@ic.edu | Lincoln Hall, 1107

Known as the most segregated city in the United States, Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a complex history that has seen many of the highs and lows to urban social progress. During this eight day alternative spring break, we will learn about Milwaukee’s past and present efforts to address racial justice, housing, poverty, and education. In thinking about these issues, we will volunteer at several organizations in the Milwaukee community, while rubbing elbows with changemakers at local foundations, community organizations, and businesses.. Plus, we will be indulging in the local cuisine, enjoying beautiful Lake Michigan, and visiting cultural and historical sites to get a little taste of everything this Midwest city has to offer!

Illinois College’s alternative spring break program is an approximately one-week break trip that combines a commitment to service, the pursuit of an academic topic, and an interest in engaging with the host community’s culture.

Through this experience, we want students to...

  • have the opportunity to engage in service work that benefits the Milwaukee community and its residents.
  • have the opportunity to hear from and network with leaders within the Milwaukee community.
  • learn about racial justice, housing, poverty, and education as it relates to Milwaukee.

Applications due December 1 via Terra Dotta (on your IC single sign-on page)