Welcome to the St. Edward’s University Campus Engagement Guide, the best place to explore your Toppertunities!
And what exactly is a campus engagement guide? We’re glad you asked.
This guide helps you sort through the variety of student organizations and faculty-led programs that St. Edward’s has to offer, and find ones that speak to your interests. This saves you from waiting for the Involvement Fair and hoping that the right booth grabs your attention or from trying to attend ten different meetings just to see what the organization is about.
With this guide, you get a sense of the experience of being involved in the program. The articles are written by students for other students. They give you a sense of what you would be doing in an organization or program, what you get out of participating in it, and how it contributes to the campus culture.
St. Edward’s University’s mission promotes individual development as well as social responsibility. Similarly, the organizations and programs in this guide promote constructive dialogue and camaraderie among people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and values. They also allow students to pursue shared interests. By gathering around a shared interest, students build relationships with other students, faculty, staff, and Austin folks who they may otherwise never meet. We believe that such relationships help everyone involved develop as individuals and as communities.
We hope this guide serves you well!
Over the fall 2017 semester, we, the students in Dr. Don Unger’s WRIT 3335 Technical & Business Communication course, created this guide based on our field research. Each student chose two St. Edward’s organizations or programs to investigate. Before we began, we read a variety of materials about civic engagement and civil civic discourse as well as readings about qualitative research methods. Following these readings, we developed a consistent, qualitative research method to be apply throughout our work. In this section, we describe those methods.
First, we developed an operational definition for civil, civic discourse as constructive dialogue that occurs across differences and relates to specific issues. It involves active listening and compromise. A person must acknowledge that they will not always agree with other people on an issue, but participation is vital. Flowing from this definition, we argued that campus organizations work toward civil, civic discourse in a number of ways, e.g., by promoting common interests, building community, educating audiences about cultures with beliefs and values that run contrary to the numerically and/or politically “dominant” group(s), and providing safe and welcoming spaces for students and others who aren’t part of the “dominant” group(s). With our operational definition and a general sense of how these organizations and programs build civil, civic discourse, we set out to research the specifics. We wanted to see these strategies in action.
In designing our research, we triangulated our methods. This technique recognizes that in qualitative research, individual research methods allow you to look at an issue from one perspective. By designing our project to involve multiple methods, we hoped to develop a complex, if not more comprehensive understanding of our issue (civil, civic discourse) and our research participants (student organizations and faculty-led programs at St. Edwards’).
Our research design involved web and library research, interviews with officers and organizers, and observations of events and meetings. Web and library research gave us a sense of what the organization or program looked like on paper. We looked at organization’s and program’s web presence, including Facebook pages, websites, etc. We also looked at documents, such as a student organization’s constitution (which each organization has to file with St. Edward’s Office of Student Life), posters from past events, etc. Such research included facts or statistics about the organization or program, their mission statement, and organizational and membership structures. This research gave us a glimpse into how the organization represents itself. Interviews and observations, on the other hand, gave us a sense of how officers or coordinators talk and think about their work as well as a sense of what participating in the organization or program looked and felt like.
We used this research design to develop the brief, but detailed articles you find in this guide. We hope that you find the information useful.
If you have any questions about the research design, please email Dr. Unger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Don Unger is an Assistant Professor at St. Edwards University. He teaches professional writing and rhetorical theory courses in the Writing & Rhetoric major. In his courses, he teaches students how to work in project teams in order to address the needs of campus and community partners. Students in Dr. Unger’s fall 2017 Business & Technical Communication class developed this guide.