Coastal Carolina University has established an innovative new program, Public Engagement Directed Studies, designed to extend and deepen the university's commitment to meaningful community interrelationships. Four Coastal professors are working full time, 40-hour week "internships" this semester at various agencies in the region as part of the new program.
Participants in the program are:
- Alan Case, associate professor of recreation, who is working in the City of Myrtle Beach's Culture and Leisure Services Department to help develop sports tourism in the area;
- Taylor Damonte, associate professor of management, who is working with the City of Myrtle Beach to develop a comprehensive database for the area's hospitality/tourism industry;
- Scott Harris, assistant professor of marine science, who is working with the Friends of the Hunley organization at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston to oversee the marine geological investigations relating to the Hunley conservation project; and
- Susan Libes, professor of marine science, who is working with the City of Conway and the Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate the Waccamaw Riverkeeper program.
The Public Engagement program represents a significant new direction at Coastal, according to Provost Peter B. Barr.
"Coastal was founded through a community-driven initiative to establish a local college and public service has always been central to our mission, but the concept of public engagement involves a more proactive, far-reaching approach," says Barr.
Public engagement is designed to benefit both the community and the university. Participating professors share their knowledge and expertise with their respective partner organizations. By being completely immersed in a particular "real world" endeavor, they gain a broader perspective on the subject, which they in turn bring back to their students in the classroom.
"This is a natural extension of what the university is supposed to be doing," says Barr. "It is just as important as supporting research and improving teaching methods."
Professors are chosen through an application process. At least two professors each semester will be allowed to participate in the initiative.
"There is a potential for university-community partnerships in every field of endeavor," says Barr. "Education doesn't stop at the classroom doors. We should be the educators to the community, and the community can help educate us."