The event took place in the special events room of Anderson Academic Commons where students, staff, faculty and the Colorado community reunited to listen to two speakers discuss how their professions can help bring change to the community and how others can do the same with their own talents.
Associate professor at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, Cheri Young, kicked-off the evening by addressing her discoveries when she worked at the African Community Center. There, she understood that, “a refugee is somebody who fears for his or her life,” and may fear persecution of their identity in their home country. In working to get by, refugees, she noted, are often victims of low paying hospitality jobs that do not provide them a living wage.
In her field of work as a hospitality professor, Young hopes to inform her students (potential hospitality managers) about this crisis so they could potentially give refugees opportunities to have a career that can sustain their livelihood.
“A hospitality professor walks into a hotel and what does she see? Hopefully she sees lots of her graduates providing great work for lots of great people and making a little bit of a difference in the world,” said Young.
Following Young was Paul Stein, an independent consultant who works with organizations serving refugees and immigrants. Focusing on a broader topic, Stein identified from his experience what are the four key aspects of community engagement that rise to the level of a grand challenge. Community engagement, he said, is an ongoing process not an event. It should remain local, develop change and requires choice.
After the speeches, the night concluded with a participatory activity in which everyone in attendance could recollect at one of the five white boards around the room and discuss potential practical solutions for the topic each board addressed. Those topics were health and healthy development, environment, meeting basic needs, personal safety and a “select your own topic” board.
The DU Grand Challenges is part of the university’s Impact 2025 initiative to focus on collaboration for the public good. This is led by Anne DePrince, psychology professor and CCESL faculty director, and Art Jones, teaching professor at the Lamont School of Music.
Grand Challenges’ current overarching theme “Thriving Communities” is in its first year of a three year process where they will focus on selecting challenges and aspirations on which to take action in the following year. The final year of the cycle will focus on demonstrating their achievements toward their public good goals.
The DU community can visit Impact 2025 website for more information on these community engagement programs.