Plenary Speakers
Keynote Speaker: Ceasar McDowell

Topic: Designing for the Margins: Service-Learning and Community Engagement as an Act of Liberation

Date & Time: Wednesday 4:30 - 6:00
Location: Red Lacquer Room

McDowell will demonstrate how new forms communication and social networking media can enhance the ability of SL and Engagement programs to meet this challenge. He will draw heavily on examples from the work at Engage The Power, The Center for Reflective Community Practice at MIT and the Egan Urban Center, DePaul University. (Website: Video:

Ceasar L. McDowell is Professor of the Practice of Community Development at MIT , Director of the global civic engagement organization Engage The Power and Senior Fellow at the Egan Urban Center at DePaul University. He holds an Ed.D. (88) and M.Ed. (84) from Harvard. Ceasar’s current work is on the development of community knowledge systems and civic engagement. He has been working on the use of narrative and story making as a tool for sharing and maintaining grassroots knowledge. His research and teaching interests also include the use of mass media and technology in promoting democracy and community-building, the education of urban students, the development and use of empathy in community work, civil rights history, peacemaking and conflict resolution.

Dr. McDowell is also founder of MIT’s Co-Lab (previously named Center for Reflective Community Practice ) and co-founder of The Civil Rights Forum on Telecommunications Policy and founding Board member of The Algebra Project He also serves on the boards of Center for Neighborhood Technology ( , and the full Frame Initiative .and The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), MassImpact, and Full Frame Initiative.

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Keynote Speaker: Laura I. Rendón

Topic: Contemplative Engagement to Advance Social Change

Date & Time: Thursday, 12:15 - 1:45
Location: Grand Ballroom

In an increasingly complex world, community engagement and service learning call for a newly-designed educational vision that attends to the learner’s full complexity of mind, body and spirit. Employing a methodological approach that challenges traditional research and pedagogic approaches, Rendón will discuss her research study and her personal quest to deepen the inner and outer learning experience through contemplative engagement and the integration of the inner life with the formal pursuit of knowledge.

Laura I. Rendón is Professor of Higher Education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas-San Antonio. She is also Co-Director of the Center for Research and Policy in Education. From 2005-2009, Rendón served as Professor and Chair in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University, College of Human Sciences. Her current research focuses on access, retention and graduation of low-income, first-generation college students and the transformation of teaching and learning to emphasize wholeness and social justice.

Rendón earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She holds a M.A. in counseling and guidance and psychology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She earned a B.A. in English and journalism from the University of Houston, and holds an associate of arts degree from San Antonio College. Rendón also attended Laredo Community College.

Rendón is the author of Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation. She is also is co-editor of Transforming the First Year of College for Students of Color, Educating a New Majority, and Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Higher Education ASHE Reader. Her scholarly work on access and student success has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the PBS documentary, The College Track. She has received numerous awards including the ASHE Distinguished Service Award, and the NASPA Latino Knowledge Community Outstanding Faculty Award. Rendón has also been inducted into the Iowa Academy of Education.

Rendón is Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Naropa University. Rendón is past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), the nation’s premier scholarly organization focusing on higher education research, and she has been a Fellow of the Fetzer Institute.

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Keynote Speaker: Dr. Amalia Mesa-Bains

Topic: Transformative Visual Language and Community Knowledge: Arts and Civic Engagement

Date & Time: Friday, 4:30 - 5:30
Location: Red Lacquer Room

Dr Mesa-Bains will present on community based projects developed as vehicles for social change through the arts with emphasis on farm worker communities and other marginalized constituencies. The talk will highlight projects in rural areas linked to community knowledge and vernacular cultural practices. Dr. Mesa-Bains will explore the case based approach to research on community arts using service learning and community engagement strategies and the development of curricular models in the field of community arts.

Amalia Mesa-Bains is an independent artist and cultural critic. Her works, primarily interpretations of traditional Chicano altars, resonate both in contemporary formal terms and in their ties to her community and history. As an author of scholarly articles and a nationally known lecturer on Latino art, she has enhanced understanding of multiculturalism and reflected major cultural and demographic shifts in the United States.

Dr. Mesa-Bains was the curator for the traveling Ceremony of Memory exhibit and the regional committee chair (Northern California) for the exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965-1985 (CARA). She founded and directed the Visual and Public Art department at California State University at Monterey Bay where she is now Professor Emerita. She is editor for the Community Arts Research and Convening Project at Maryland Institute College of Art.

She also has written extensively on Chicano art and culture. Among her many awards is a 1992 Distinguished MacArthur Fellowship. She has served as a consultant for the Texas State Council on the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and is a former Commissioner of Arts for the City of San Francisco. Dr. Mesa-Bains is the co-author of Ceremony of Spirit: Nature and Memory in Contemporary Latino Art and Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism (with bell hooks).

She holds a BA in painting from San Jose State University, an MA in interdisciplinary education from San Francisco State University, and an MA and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the School of Clinical Psychology, Wright Institute in Berkeley.