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Liberal studies professor earns national civic engagement award

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Posted on June 16, 2017

Danielle Lake, assistant professor of liberal studies, was awarded the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

The award was presented June 8 at AASCU's American Democracy Project annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

Lake was nominated for the award by Jessica Jennrich, director of the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women & Gender Equity, who said Lake has "an uncanny skill to link civic projects to tangible outcomes for both students and the community."

Lake has designed and taught Community Based Learning courses on food security issues and wicked problems, and hosted learning communities on engagement for faculty members. She is a research team leader for the Grand Rapids Engaged Department Initiative (GREDI), a collaborative effort among Grand Valley, Grand Rapids Community College and Aquinas College to connect classrooms with community.

Informed by her work with GREDI, Lake said she is interested in developing courses that better prepare students for the challenges and rewards of civic engagement earlier in their tenure at Grand Valley.

"Research at Grand Valley and nationally has shown that students are engaging less in their communities when they leave college than during their first two years," she said. "I'm excited by the opportunity to uncover this work and help develop opportunities for students that keeps them engaged throughout their time at Grand Valley."

Anne Hiskes, dean of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, said Lake has been a champion in helping students apply what they have learned in their liberal education classes to their work in the community, and creating awareness among colleagues about the positive impact community-based teaching has on student learning.