Spencer Center Reveals Civic and Global Engagement Themes

April 6, 2017

Lisa Brown, assistant director of the Spencer Center, offers faculty and staff fortune cookies, which held the civic and global engagement themes for the next two academic years.

If the creative and auspicious reveal of the Spencer Center’s annual civic and global engagement theme is any indication, good fortune should fall upon Mary Baldwin University for the next two years.


In an intimate event April 4 in Wenger Hall, the Spencer Center used messages tucked inside fortune cookies to reveal the campus-wide themes for 2017–18, Equity, and 2018–19, Citizenship.


Each year, a theme is chosen to unite the Mary Baldwin community around a central idea that fosters civic and global engagement. The theme gives definition to the academic year and a way to link together the work of students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines and programs. Past years’ themes have included Courage, Place, Power, Heart, Maps, Voices, Wisdom, Roots, and Moment. The theme for this academic year is Identity.


“We were very happy with the widespread participation in the theme process this year,” said Christina Harrison, Spencer Center director. “We received suggestions from a total of 38 students, faculty, and staff across the university.”


Working with faculty fellows, the Spencer Center staff decided that to help bring the theme to life, Harrison said, there is a month-by-month framework in place to foster engagement and conversations throughout the course of the academic year.


“Each month we will sponsor an event to view the theme through a different facet, or lens, thus highlighting its complexity and deepening the inquiry,” Harrison said.


Here is the yearlong agenda:


  • September: What does Equity mean? Consider questions such as: How is equity different from equality? How do different disciplines define or view equity? How could we achieve it?


  • October: EQuity with a “Q.” How does quantitative data and reasoning help us analyze and understand equity? Case study: wealth and income inequality (with particular mention of Latinx communities for Latinx Awareness month)


  • November: Equity on a Global Scale. How do we consider equity within a global framework? Case study: perhaps women’s education.


  • February: Equity on a Local Scale. How do we see equity issues manifested in Augusta County/Staunton?


  • March: Equity at MBU. What equity issues do we face on campus? How can we analyze the root causes? What would equity on campus look like?


  • April: Now What Do We Do? Given what we’ve learned, how do we use our knowledge, skills and awareness to effect change?

The Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement is a living testament to Mary Baldwin’s commitment to both local and worldwide community outreach, offering a clearinghouse of service, study, or volunteer abroad opportunities, as well as service-learning and international education resources for faculty.


It is also a forum for dialogue on an array of civic and global topics, offering guest lectures, faculty-development seminars, and panel discussions on topics such as hunger, healthcare, and human rights. The Spencer Center hosts a study abroad fair and community service fair, and a bimonthly “international café” dialogue series.