The University Record, November 12, 2001

Project Community honors its struggles

By Susan Farley

“The joy is in the struggles,” said Mark Chesler, professor of sociology and faculty director of Project Community for the past 30 years.

“Celebrating a Few Good Struggles,” a symposium held Nov. 2, honored Chesler’s leadership with one of the longest running, academically accredited, service-learning centers in the nation. Out of his long-term experience he also wrote an article, bearing the same name as the symposium.

“I am personally honored and humbled. It’s just an absolute privilege for someone’s work to be focused on for almost six hours now,” commented Chesler on the afternoon of the first symposium day.

Chesler gave a personal statement about his motivations for, and the consequences of, his involvement in the struggles related to the challenges of community service and active learning, diversity and multicultural learning, and creating a more democratic educational process.

“We have to continue to strive and not settle. Project Community is a collective achievement. This is a celebration of a collective struggle today,” said Chesler.

Other speakers were Jeffrey Howard, administrative manager at the Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning; Jerome Rabow, professor emeritus of the University of California (Los Angeles); Carolyn Vasques Scalera, director of Diversity Initiatives, American Association of Higher Education; and Jim Crowfoot, dean and professor emeritus of natural resources and environment, and professor emeritus of LS&A first year seminars.

As part of Project Community, more than 600 students each year combine academic learning with meaningful service in the community. To become involved, students elect a sociology course, Practicum in Sociology, or an education course, Participation/Observation in a Classroom.

The event was sponsored by the U-M Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, and Project Community. The Ginsberg Center, established in 1997 (formerly the Center for Community Service and Learning, recently renamed in honor of a distinguished alumnus), engages students, faculty and community members in learning together through community service and civic participation in a diverse democratic society.