University hosts first-ever Carolina Engagement Week

This week, several organizations around UNC’s campus are collaborating to host the first-ever Carolina Engagement Week, a collection of events and workshops that showcase the partnerships between researchers at the University and community organizations across North Carolina.

The events will highlight efforts made by community leaders, University researchers and UNC students to create positive social and economic changes throughout the state.

The Carolina Engagement Week will consist of 34 events covering a variety of subjects, including pandemic-related issues, equity and inclusion, accessible education and more.

“This really is just kind of a celebration of research and engagement that needs to be talked about and highlighted,” Alexander Saunders, content and communications specialist at the Carolina Center for Public Engagement, said.

Students and community members in North Carolina can visit the Carolina Engagement Week website to register for the events for free. Most of them will be held virtually or in a hybrid format.

Margaret Barrett, associate director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, said many of those participating in the engagement week will speak about working throughout the pandemic and how they adapted their work.

“It has been two years since we went into pandemic mode, and I can say that a lot of the faculty and others participating in Engagement Week (were) very excited to showcase their efforts,” Barrett said.

Carolina Across 100 — a University initiative that aims to alleviate existing and pandemic-related community challenges in each of the state’s 100 counties — will be hosting two events during the week.

The first event, which began on Monday, is a weeklong hackathon competition that challenges students to visualize publicly available data and survey data collected by the initiative, to show the pandemic’s impact on communities across North Carolina.

Jessica Dorrance, research director for Carolina Across 100, said the initiative hopes to draw participants from all areas of study and interests.

“We have this incredible resource of students who have tons of ideas and tons of skills and lots of energy, and we want to be able to harness that for the use of the people of this state,” Dorrance said.

Other campus organizations are also hosting interactive events throughout Carolina Engagement Week.

On Thursday, representatives from APPLES Service-Learning program will provide students with information on service learning and volunteer opportunities offered on and off campus.

Other events focus on equity and inclusion topics, including:

  • “How Communities Can Partner to Increase Access to Summer Meals for Kids and Teens” hosted by University and state health specialists on Tuesday
  • “UndocuCarolina: Collaborating to Build a Welcoming Community” hosted by the Carolina Latinx Center on Wednesday
  • “We’re Still Here: North Carolina’s Indigenous Cultures,” featuring a panel of tribe members from across North Carolina on Thursday

Another engagement event is a voter registration training session on Thursday. Attendees can volunteer to register voters through the You Can Vote campaign and will learn about educating community members on the upcoming primaries.

You Can Vote is sponsoring a voter registration table along with the Carolina Center for Public Service, which will be hosted in The Pit on Friday.

Barrett said the Carolina Engagement Week is an opportunity for students to think about what their involvement in research and other aspects of campus will look like moving forward.

“A lot of students who I’ve talked to this year maybe haven’t had as much of a chance to get involved as they might have had in more usual years,” Barrett said. “And so I think a lot of students are thinking ‘What do I want my passions to be next year? What do I want to get involved with?’”

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