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Quality Enhancement Plan

The Center for Civic Engagement

 

To administer and support the Civic Experience and Civic Inquiry Programs , the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates will open a new center, the Center for Civic Engagement (the Center), in the fall of 2006. The Center will be charged with providing community-based research opportunities for faculty and students to work alongside Houston-based community partners to address the array of challenges facing our city. In its initial phase, the Center will be staffed by a half-time director of faculty rank, a full-time executive director, a half-time faculty coordinator, and an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer.

In addition to identifying, cultivating, and sustaining opportunities for community-based research and design projects appropriate for Rice undergraduates, the Center will also serve as an active liaison among Rice faculty, community organizations, and students to ensure fruitful matches for research and design projects in QEP Civic Inquiry courses. The Center will also help faculty develop and design QEP courses, as well as host conferences and provide other support related to community-based research and "teaching-learning" for faculty engaged or interested in community-based research or design. In addition, the Center will: 1) fund stipends and grants for summer undergraduate research fellowships for QEP-related projects, 2) integrate existing co-curricular efforts aimed at providing enhanced civic opportunities in Houston, 3) organize forums for oral presentation of student research and design projects to campus and community audiences, and 4) conduct and coordinate ongoing assessment of the QEP.

Located in the heart of a dynamic city, the Center for Civic Engagement at Rice University will be ideally situated to help students begin grappling with the complex challenges facing Houston.

 

Conclusion  

Rice University's QEP integrates Houston into the undergraduate experience and is a crucial part of a broad institutional commitment to bring the city more fully into a newly conceived undergraduate experience, one with a focus on research and civic engagement. In addition to being a focal point of the world's energy economy, Houston boasts the world's largest medical complex (across the street from the Rice campus); a world-renowned cultural district adjacent to the campus; a vibrant international business community; an extraordinarily diverse population; and, notably, daunting social and environmental problems. Houston is ready-made for academic and personal exploration, and by its very nature offers a host of opportunities and experiences that can complement and extend formal undergraduate education.