In the fall of 2017, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department of Sociology, and the Center for Community Engagement launched the interdisciplinary minor in Community Leadership to meet the interests of SHSU students and the growing needs of local communities.
Current economic cycles, demographic changes, and environmental issues pose challenges that ensure our communities will continue to need individuals with strong leadership skills. Particularly in the fastest growing places in our nation, including the greater Houston area, public institutions of higher education must recognize the importance of giving students access to knowledge and competencies that will help our community stakeholders well into the future.
The minor in Community Leadership is aimed at teaching students the knowledge and skills to be agents of change in their communities including: analytical; communication; interpersonal; leadership; managerial; problem-solving; and time-management skills. These vital abilities were requested by local community leaders and confirmed by the literature on community leadership.
The minor begins with an introduction course covering the basic concepts and theories of community development. Local leaders are invited to interact with students about the rewards and challenges of community leadership. Students also develop communication skills, community needs assessment techniques, and resource mobilization. Students are also actively engaged in the community through an academic community engagement (ACE) project.
Since local community leaders emphasized the importance of communication skills, the second required course for the minor is in Communication Studies. Students are allowed to select three additional courses from a list of advanced electives all linked to strengthened abilities to understand community dynamics. The final capstone course is a semester-long internship. Taken in the senior year, typically the final semester prior to graduation, the internship provides opportunities for students to directly apply the knowledge and skills learned to further the work of community organizations. Students are matched to internship opportunities that best suit their disciplinary and career interests.
2019 Gulf-South Summit
At SHSU, shaping the next generation of community leaders is what we do and who we are. The 2019 Gulf-South Summit conference, hosted by SHSU’s Center for Community Engagement, brought more than 300 educators, administrators and staff from around the nation and marked the first time the annual event was hosted in Texas. With a mission to bring together students, leaders in education, faculty and community partners, participants shared best practices and research in community engagement.
To kick-start the event, selected guest speakers from diverse cultural backgrounds took to the stage sharing their experiences and calls to action with students and higher education professionals.
“Our keynote speakers included four inspiring young community leaders,” said Lee Miller, director of the center and conference chair. “Each presented a ‘think globally, act locally’ spirit and connected their inspiring stories to research and practice in the field of service-learning and civic engagement.”
As participants convened over three days, they focused on sharing information about campus-community partnerships, engagement projects, service-learning courses and applied learning experiences. Workshops covering an array of topics were offered with members of SHSU’s faculty leading several of the presentations.
“Leaders in higher education believe that colleges and universities should not only provide quality educational programs, but should teach students to be engaged citizens. Today this is more important than ever,” Joyce McCauley, executive director of the center said.
Flower Power Partnership
Students from SHSU and Huntsville High School worked together to prepare for the Gulf-South Summit conference on Community Leadership. Through an ongoing partnership with Huntsville ISD, SHSU agricultural students led over 15 high school students through a floral design seminar to build centerpieces for the event. The high school students also toured the campus and learned about college life from SHSU’s Agricultural Ambassadors. he project is just one example of how SHSU is creating mutually-beneficial community partnerships that exchange knowledge and resources.