Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan recently served as keynote speaker at the International Service Learning Summit (ISL), a multiday conference in Durham, N.C., that convened leaders and practitioners worldwide to discuss service, particularly at the global level.
Hosted by DukeEngage at Duke University, this year’s event centered on global community partnerships, while offering attendees interactive lectures, working groups and strategies to engage participants to learn about and build a community of practice in global service learning. Participants of the conference arrived from backgrounds in global, community-based, experiential and/or service-learning areas.
“By concentrating on global community partnerships, the International Service Learning Summit is advancing a key message about fostering service and engagement at the global level,” Gearan says. “We are at an inflection point for global service learning with real possibilities for a community of practice. It is an honor to be a part of the dialogue.”
The central goal of this year’s ISL Summit was to build a community of practice in global service learning and to examine critical issues in service. As part of the summit, an agenda was created for international educators that will focus on developing and measuring success.
With more than 160 attendees and 32 community partners from around the world, it was the largest ISL Summit to date. Held at the Durham Convention Center, the event marked the third ISL Summit since its inception.
Eric Mlyn, the Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage and Assistant Vice Provost for Civic Engagement, says the summit provided an important opportunity to explore effective practices and address the best ways to engage students with communities through globally focused service.
In addition, Mlyn says that with Gearan’s extensive background in the arena of civic engagement and service, including having formerly served both as Director of the Peace Corps and chair of the Talloires Network Steering Committee, he was the perfect person to launch this year’s summit.
“If you think of any of the major civic engagement programs either in higher education or through the federal government, there is not one that President Gearan has not played a leadership role in or touched in some deeply impactful way. It’s actually quite remarkable,” said Mlyn during his introduction to Gearan’s keynote address.
Mlyn says Gearan’s reflections were significant in uniting and energizing the conversation around the summit’s focus on global community partnerships.
“Through his experience and having been a key player in so many initiatives, Mark Gearan’s involvement inspired both the audience from higher education and community partners,” Mlyn says.
In addition to DukeEngage, the summit co-hosts included: the Center for Social Development and Gephardt Institute for Public Service, Washington University in St. Louis; Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University; the Building Bridges Coalition; and the Henry Luce Foundation. DukeEngage is a program for Duke University undergraduates who wish to pursue an immersive service experience.
The next ISL Summit will be held at Kansas State University in fall 2016.
Appointed as HWS president in 1999, Gearan has led the Colleges during a period of unprecedented growth and development. With extensive credentials in public policy, Gearan served as Director of the Peace Corps and was Assistant to the President, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House.
Gearan is a member and former chair of the Talloires Network Steering Committee, an international association of more than 200 institutions on six continents committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. As the past chair of the Board of Directors of both National Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service, he has similarly supported civic engagement activities in the United States. In the upstate New York region, Gearan serves on the advisory councils of the Happiness House Foundation, Ontario ARC, Geneva Community Center, and is a founding member of Geneva 2020, an initiative to assist the Geneva City School District on key goals including increasing the graduation rate and improving career and college readiness.