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University Studies Program: General Education for the 21st Century

Quest III Civic Engagement Extravaganza Success

During the Provost’s Teaching and Learning Summit, more than 80 potential community partners, alumni mentors and instructors participated in a “speed networking” event to begin connections that will develop into Community Experience assignments for Quest III courses. Community Partner Deb Lee of the Christine Ann Center said the Extravaganza was "the most beneficial experience I’ve had in terms of connecting with university staff and agency needs." 

Invitation to Register: Quest III Course Development Workshops

These workshops are designed to equip and inspire the USP teaching community to design exemplary courses that integrate best- practice teaching and learning research, substantive signature question content and a high-quality community experience assignment.

Quest III course development workshop participants will receive $1,000 stipends upon completion of a draft syllabus, final syllabus and USP forms. As needed, additional financial support may be available for on-site visits with community partners during spring 2013 as needed.

Register Now

Please register as soon as possible, so that we may work with you and your community partners (Dec. 3, 2012 Registration Deadline)

Schedule of Sessions Workshop locations to be announced following registration.

Jan. 7, 1-3 p.m. Special session for participants new to USP (those who have not completed Quest I or II workshops).

Jan. 8 and 9, 1-5 p.m. Sessions focused on Signature Question content, facilitated by USP faculty coordinators Jordan Landry, Stephanie Spehar and Paul Van Auken.

Jan. 15, 16 and 17, 1-3 p.m. Sessions focused on “Community Experience” assignment development including second networking opportunities with community partners arranged by Michael Lueder, Community Experience Coordinator.

Special Quest III Information

  • Potential Quest III courses and instructors need to be determined collaboratively by departments/programs. 
  • Resources are available to support the offering of these courses, which will be made available to students in the fall and/or spring semester of the sophomore year. Approximately 34 sections of Quest III will be offered each academic year.
  • If a potential Quest III course instructor was not able to attend the Provost’s Summit “Civic Engagement Extravaganza” for first meetings with potential community partners (or may be interested in a community partner not present at the Extravaganza), Michael Lueder will work to support that instructor prior to the January workshops.


Meet the USP Council
The USP Council is comprised of members of the UW Oshkosh campus community who are supporting the early implementation of this new general education program. In the next several USP Updates, we will introduce members of this collaborative team.

Paul Van Auken,
Faculty Coordinator, Civic Learning Signature Question

Paul Van Auken

As the faculty coordinator for the Signature Question in Civic Learning, Paul Van Auken (Sociology) has been facilitating course development workshops for each of the Quests. Paul served as a member of the 2011-2012 leadership team for the reform of general education.   “Community” is a professional and personal commitment for Paul.

Paul came to the sociology department and Oshkosh in a roundabout way. He grew up in Forest City, Iowa, the son of two teachers. He attended his hometown Waldorf College for two years and then completed a bachelor's degree in 1995 in business administration-marketing at Wartburg College. While there, he participated in choir tours of Europe and played bass in bands named Homicidal Flowers, Sweatlodge and Lizard Family Circus. After a year as a community relations specialist for Food Bank of Delaware while a full-time volunteer for Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Paul headed to the University of Delaware’s School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. There he interned at the Delaware Association of Nonprofit Agencies and was a research assistant for rural sociologist Tom Ilvento, while completing his master's degree in urban affairs and public policy in 1999. During this time, he played in bands called Scattergood and Honeyfarm.

Then it was back to the Midwest, to Wisconsin, where he took a job as the manager of the Madison office for Impact Seven, a statewide, nonprofit community development corporation. In his final year with the organization, he and a colleague successfully wrote an application for $21 million from the brand-new federal New Markets Tax Credits program with whom he continues to consult. Finally recognizing his long-held ambition to be a teacher, he returned to graduate school in Madison to study rural sociology, where he did interview-based research using photo elicitation (asking people to take photographs of particular things in certain categories and then asking them about their photos). That project served as the basis for his dissertation, entitled Nature, Community and Commodity: Shifting Landscapes and Social Relations in Rural Amenity Areas of Wisconsin and Norway. During this time he also played with the band Spin Spin Coupling.

Paul joined the faculty at UW Oshkosh in 2007.  “In fall 2007, I had the great privilege of joining the sociology department, with a joint appointment in the environmental studies program. This is the ideal position for me, as I have my feet in two exciting programs. I enjoy getting students out into the community, doing research projects and field trips, and look forward to involving them in research. My current research involves conducting an assessment of participatory planning methods and studying neighborhood development efforts in Oshkosh. I enjoy living with my wife and daughters near Menominee Park on Oshkosh’s east side, and recently co-founded a grassroots organization called Square One, which among other things, hosts a quarterly community conversation called Views & Brews.”

As Paul serves UW Oshkosh during the implementation of the USP, his knowledge and experience in “civic learning” are strengthening multiple communities on and off campus. "I'm very excited about our reform of general education at UWO and being a part of the University Studies Program. Community has for some time been my object of study and its development my focus for service, and it's very gratifying to see civic learning and community engagement be central to the mission of USP." For further information about course development assistance related to Civic Learning, please feel free to contact USP Council member, Paul Van Auken.

Need Help?
For assistance, please use the following contact information:
email: usp@uwosh.edu
website: uwosh.edu/usp

Watch for the University Studies Program Update each Tuesday of the fall 2012 semester!
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
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