Edited by Morgan Huber
The Millersville University Center for Public Scholarship & Social Change (CPSSC) works with students, staff, and members of the community to engage collaboratively in research for public purposes.
Helen Schirf, a current graduate assistant, is “proud to work with the center.” She likes to see differences in the community of southwest Lancaster. The center is ready to work with anyone in the Lancaster area.
CPSSC focuses on data collection and analysis for the current partner. Research partners may have prior data, or they are starting from the beginning. Research Assistants then work on surveying the data and interview questions to come up with a plan. They give the partner homework based on their feedback, which usually consists of qualitative and statistical data.
An organization usually reaches out to program director Dr. Carrie Smith or the center for help. In many instances, working with CPSSC is the best thing that could happen to them. The center is working toward having business cards to describe what they do and their accomplishments thus far.
Usually, 60-65% of the center’s recommendations get implemented. Another 20% admire the work and say their feedback has been helpful and for the final 15%, there is little to no implementation. The center is working toward raising those numbers and partnering with more people.
Dr. Smith views the center as a “little community of people and a place to come to.” She enjoys training and mentoring students but most importantly giving them opportunities to make mistakes and learn how to correct them.
An important time for the CPSSC is when they work with a community engagement grant program that gives money to faculty and staff and hires students to work on a community engagement project. The money often goes to pay for student wages. This is not only for social sciences, but can also be utilized for research in art, music, or anything impacting the community. For instance, they supported and granted money to track bats.
Many people involved with the center said working with Family Services in Lancaster was one of the most rewarding partners to work with. They focus on families with incarcerated family members. Dr. Smith said it was “rewarding and see progress come from their efforts.” The center informs partners that “being patient and waiting is important and things will not change overnight.” The center takes time to recognize problems and find the best solutions.
Any student can become involved in the center. Many graduate students that were involved in CPSSC found a job or went to grad school following graduation. Some of the current research assistants recently visited classrooms to explain the organization and its current needs. The center is looking to work with other organizations on campus.
For more information on CPSSC, readers are encouraged to visit their office on the 2nd floor of the Huntingdon house, office 203 or reach out to Dr. Smith or Ms. Schirf via email at Carrie.Smith@millersville.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org.