Four Community Engagement Lessons from Detroit to Connecticut


  • Michelle R. Dunlap Connecticut College



community engagement


I present four lessons for the field or for other community engaged scholars:

  • Question assumptions with respect to the communities in which we are engaged (discussed and illustrated above).
  • Conduct, support and publish more community-engagement research with students of color and communities of color at the center, and not in juxtaposition to normalized views of white culture.
  • University or college funding opportunities to help support community-requested or negotiated engagement are a necessary and important investment.
  • When engaging with communities outside of the classroom, you, your students, and your administration have to be willing to take measured risks.


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Davi, A., M. Dunlap, & Green, A. (2010). Exploring Difference in the Service-Learning Classroom: Three Teachers Write about Anger, Sexuality, and Justice. In T. Deans, B. Roswell, & A. Wurr (Eds.) Writing and community engagement: a critical sourcebook (465-484). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

Dunlap, M. (1998a). Adjustment and developmental outcomes of students engaged in service learning. Journal of Experiential Education, 21 (3), 147-153.

Dunlap, M. (1998b). Voices of students in multicultural service learning settings. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 5 (1), 58-67. Retrieved from

Dunlap, M. (1998c). Voices of Students in Multicultural Service Learning Settings. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 5 (1), 58-67.

Dunlap, M. & Coughlin B. (1999). College student affection issues in child and family focused community service-learning settings. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 3 (4), 28-34. [Reprinted in Linda Serra Hagedorn, Ph.D. (Ed.), Sound instruction: ready to use classroom practice, 2001, Chatanooga, TN: Rapid Intellect Group.]

Dunlap, M. (2000). Reaching out to children and families: students model effective community service. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Dunlap, M., Scoggin J. M., Green, P. & Davi, A. (2007 Spring). White students’ experiences of privilege and socioeconomic disparities: Toward a theoretical model. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 13 (2), 19-30. Retrieved from

Dunlap, M. & Webster, N. (2009). Enhancing inter-cultural competence through civic engagement. in B. Jacoby (Ed.), Civic engagement in higher education (pp. 140¬-153). hoboken, nj: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Dunlap, M. (2011). Thriving in a multicultural classroom. In C.P. Harvey & M.J. Allard (Eds.), Understanding and managing diversity. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Dunlap, M. (2013). Cross-cultural community engagement, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model of death and dying, and racial identity development. In H. Fitzgerald, J. Primavera, and C. Burack’s (Eds.) Going public: civic engagement, The scholarship of practice, E. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Dunlap, M., Shueh T. F., Burrell C., & Beaubrun, P. J. (2017). Color-blind ideology and perceptions of minority children during a fictionalized parent-child discipline scene, Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 27 (2), 193-213.

Dunlap, M., Burrell C., Beaubrun, P. (2019). Moments in the danger zone: Encountering “non-racist,” “non-racial,” “non-color-seeing,” do-gooders. In S. Evans, A. Domingue, & T. Mitchell (Eds.), Black women and social justice education: legacies and lessons. NY: SUNY Press.

Evans, S., C. Taylor, M. Dunlap, & D. Miller (2009), African Americans and community engagement in higher education: Perspectives of race in community service, service-learning, and community based research. NY: SUNY Press.

Parent Support Group Video Resource Page (2018). Home. Retrieved from