Four Distinguished Community Engagement Awards Given for Research and Teaching

The Provost’s Office has selected four winners for the 2021 Distinguished Community Engagement Awards in the categories of teaching and research.

The two awardees for Community Engaged Research are:

Erica Scharrer, communications

NEWS Erica Scharrer
Erica Scharrer

Scharrer was selected because of her ten-year collaboration with local middle schools, which has led to over twenty important publications in the field of media studies and to life-changing experiences for her sixth-grade subjects who, through her work, learn to recognize the power of media in their lives.

Carolina Aragon, landscape architecture and regional planning

NEWS Carolina Aragon
Carolina Aragon

Aragon’s award-winning research and creative practice was selected due to her exploration of questions related to how public art can serve as a tool to increase knowledge about local impacts of climate change and promote engagement in planning processes. Her work engages in a rigorous social science research component that seeks to better understand local residents’ perceptions of climate change and its immediate threats to their coastal neighborhood.

The two awardees for Community Engaged Teaching are:

Laura Ciolkowski, women, gender, sexuality studies

NEW Laura Ciolkowski
Laura Ciolkowski

The review committee noted that Ciolkowski was selected for the Award due to her distinguished leadership on campus and among the five colleges to build a prison education program at UMass. Her work to make UMass more accessible and equitable by opening our campus to marginalized women and communities in the region is highly commendable.

Richard Chu, history

NEWS Richard Chu
Richard Chu

Chu was selected for the Award for Community Engaged Teaching for seeking out and building relationships with five different Asian American communities in Western Massachusetts – Bhutanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese and Filipino – and creating a civic engagement curriculum around the needs of those communities to narrate and document their own pasts.

Distinguished Community Engagement Awards have been made annually by the Provost’s Office for more than two decades. According to the call for nominations, “This award recognizes individuals within our campus community for their outstanding contributions to community-engaged scholarship and teaching, and campus / community partnerships, with impacts at the local, regional, national, or international level.” The award comes with a $1000 monetary prize and a certificate of merit.