Faculty ACE Handbook

Thinking about ACE or want to incorporate it into your teaching and scholarship? This handbook provides tools and resources to help make your experience as easy as possible while also maintaining academic rigor, ethical standards, and responsibility to the community and greater good.

How can civic engagement be valuable to my students?

  • The Case for ACE – Research on the value of civic engagement as a high-impact teaching practice, for supporting a diverse student body, for developing skills employers value, for building content knowledge, and for contributing to civic life.
  • You might also watch this video, created by Allyvia Garza, Solveig Hanes, Gabriel Marinho, and Christian Schlaefer as their ACE project in Sian Christie’s “Organizational Storytelling” course, Fall 2019, to hear from them how to ACE can be valuable.

How do I find out more about the local community and its priorities to connect with in a course?

There are many ways to learn more about the local community and ways to connect to priorities.

  • Start with you–your own interests (personal and professional), your own community involvement, and your own network of connections! The most successful ACE projects occur when faculty themselves are invested in an issue or the work of an organization.
  • The ACE website has an entire section dedicated to Issue Areas that list a variety of local and regional nonprofits and organizations who are working towards goals in these areas.
  • There is also an ongoing list of community projects that you could consider tapping into through an ACE collaboration.
  • Schedule a time to talk with the ACE office.

How do I begin to integrate ACE into a course?

The Academic Civic Engagement Program provides individualized consultations with faculty interested in adding an ACE component to a course.  In general, setting up an ACE component the first time it is offered is the most time-consuming step and therefore, it is recommended that planning begin 3-5 months ahead of time, depending on the complexity of the project.  One reason for advance planning is to allow for coordination with community partner organizations, who may need to adjust their schedules or plan for supervision of students in order to participate.  The following worksheet introduces things to think about as you begin designing an ACE project.

  • Civic Engagement Course Design Worksheet (pdf) – A list of things to think about as you design an ACE project
  • ACE Partnership Agreement (pdf) – This form intends to clarify roles, responsibilities, expectations, and outcomes between community partners, faculty, and students that are associated with academic civic engagement (ACE) projects within a course. Ideally, faculty and community partner(s) work collaboratively to develop shared aims for the ACE project; then faculty relay expectations and project parameters to students in course materials (e.g., on the course syllabus, share this form, etc.)

Here is a handy checklist of best practices for ACE courses that help make it impactful for students and community partners alike!

  1. Syllabi statement: What is ACE? What are your civic learning goals for your ACE course?

  2. Project/activity that is beneficial to the community partner or the general “community” at large (as you’re defining it)?

  3. Clear and transparent project/activity description that makes the explicit connection between the course content and the activity?

  4. Logistical information that is easily accessible by students: transportation, partner contact information, background check forms, etc?

  5. Adequate preparation for the students to work within the community and with diverse individuals? Could include partner as guest speaker beforehand, ACE office presentation, reviewing professional work expectations, etc.

  6. Critical reflection at least once before, during, and after ACE activity (ideally, all three!) with guiding questions related to your course goals?

  7. Way(s) to assess student learning that results from the ACE activity?

How do I officially designate a class as ACE?

The decision is up to each individual instructor as determined by guidelines established by the Academic Civic Engagement Advisory Committee. For guidelines on what constitutes an ACE course and instructions for how to make this designation, please read the document, ACE Designation for Classes (pdf).  Including text in ACE course syllabi to define and describe these activities will help students engage more effectively with off-campus and on-campus entities by raising their awareness of academic civic engagement terminology, aims, learning objectives and best practices. For suggestions, see the following guide, Suggested Text for ACE Class Syllabi (pdf).

What support is available for teaching an ACE course?

The ACE Program offers one-on-one consulting to help you identify community partners, manage logistics, design and set up the ACE project, and learn about best practices.  We offer funding for implementation of ACE courses, for teaching assistants, and for professional travel. We help facilitate Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorizations for international students (only needed for certain ACE courses).  In addition, we offer in-class orientations for students and assistance with completing their ACE projects.

How do I know if what I'm doing is working?

Where do I find more resources for ACE teaching and public scholarship?

What faculty development opportunities are available?

  • Workshops – Links to upcoming events sponsored at St. Olaf.   On the workshop pages, find resources such as presentation slides and handouts for past professional development workshops.
  • Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts (CILA) – Upcoming conversations and workshops often have pedagogical tips and tools that are applicable to ACE courses.

Whom should I contact to get help?