March 6, 2009

Greetings all,

In this edition of “What’s on My Mind,” I will focus on the College vision — the notion of students leaving PVCC and realizing positive social change. In many ways our collective leadership attention to: student success, community building, and bringing learning alive are all means to this greater end or outcome of positive social change.

What is positive social change? Simply put, it is our hope that students will leave PVCC with the academic knowledge, skills, commitment, and desire to make our community, state, country and in some case even the world better places. Recently Paul Golisch shared with me a video clip that really captures the notion of positive social change — take a look (the message begins about 45 seconds into the song) If you want a more academic understanding, see the February 27, 2009 issue of /The Chronicle of Higher Education/ article entitled “Want to Change the World? Here’s How” in which college programs to address hunger, pollution, and AIDS are profiled.

Now let’s make it real for PVCC — Felicia Ramirez and her COM 230 classes just raised over $530 for a number of social causes as part of the learning process; the Emerging Leaders program is working on a significant Earth Day program this year; last year Service Learning was integrated into over 80 classes with over 1,900 students participating http://www.pvc.maricopa.edu/%7Eservlearn/ and countless faculty integrate social, environmental, and justice issues into the day to day classroom experience.

Any time I get the chance, when speaking on campus, I reference the single biggest determinant of student success as the degree to which students are active and engaged learners focusing on educationally purposeful activities. Further, I’ll reference that deep learning is most likely to occur in situations where students can create context, engage in compelling situations, build on topics and issues that are of personal importance, and that occur in social situations. All of these facets are manifested in activities and learning experiences tied to positive social change. By the way, check out Powerful Partnerships: A Shared Responsibility for Learning to learn more about impactful student learning http://www.myacpa.org/pub/documents/taskforce.pdf

So why is the realization of our collective vision for positive social change really important? At minimum students are afforded the opportunity for deep learning. More importantly, for me it is the very real, heartfelt belief that someday a PVCC student will make a significant difference in solving the world hunger issue, or will provide leadership for Arizona to solve very complex social and economic border issues, or help low income families in our 85310 zip code service area gain affordable housing, or find sustainable alternatives to our reliance on fossil fuels. Think about the quality of life of your children’s children’s children and positive social change takes on a whole new urgency to bring learning alive at PVCC.

Have a great week.

Regards,

Paul Dale, Ed.D.
Interim President