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Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice are small-group peer-learning experiences where individuals who share a domain of interest come together to share knowledge and experience.

Seed Coalition coordinates Communities of Practice (CoPs) as a way to connect professionals across our network to advance their learning and passion through shared interaction. Our CoPs aim to enhance individuals’ capacity to do community engagement work in higher education; connect them to resources, research, and program models through their peers; and build the field’s knowledge about CoPs as a model for professional development. 

Communities of practice can serve varied functions, including solving problems, sharing information, providing experience, utilizing shared assets, coordinating and strategizing, building a case for action, documenting projects, mapping knowledge, gaining confidence, and more (Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015).

How do I join a Community of Practice?

We currently offer virtual CoPs formed around specific issues in the higher education community and civic engagement field. Our CoPs are designed to leverage connections and initiate conversations that might not otherwise occur, and so we encourage faculty, staff, administrators, students, and community partners affiliated with Seed Coalition to participate. We believe that regardless of formal role, we all have valuable knowledge to share and learning to do. 

All CoPs are currently conducted on Zoom, meaning access to high-speed internet and a camera are required. You must be able to commit to all sessions to partake in CoPs. 

Interested in Participating?

Communities of Practice are open to faculty, staff, administrators, students, and community partners affiliated with Seed Coalition as part of a campus membership. Typically each community has 8-12 participants.

You can read about our Spring 2024 Community of Practice on the topic of Deepening Collaborative Relationships Between Local Government and Colleges/Universities. Our next Community of Practice will be announced in the near future.

Interested in Facilitating?

Read through our FAQ to get started and contact us if you have any further questions.

What are the responsibilities of a CoP facilitator?

CoP facilitators prepare for and lead at least four group meetings, starting in January and ending in May, with the support of a Seed Coalition team member. Facilitators set their own meeting schedule and participate in an orientation via Zoom video call in early November.

Facilitators will seek to create engaged learning communities where participants learn, grow, and build relationships. This can include:

  • helping participants build relationships and trust
  • facilitating discussion of principles, theories, or models and their practice
  • using story-telling to derive learning
  • guiding participants in completing tasks toward a shared group or individuals goals
  • generating and sharing resources within the CoP and beyond
  • Some facilitators may decide to have participants do a reading, have pair conversations, prepare a written reflection, bring a resource to share, etc. between sessions. Staff support will be available to all facilitators for planning and execution.

Facilitators will be paired with a Seed Coalition staff member to provide technical assistance and support the success of the CoP in other ways as needed.

Information on co-facilitation

While we are open to individual facilitators, our preference is for each CoP to be led by two co-facilitators because:

  • it is easier to attend to the range of dynamics at work in the group and develop questions and prompts to advance the group’s work together;
  • it presents a more diverse range of thought at the outset of the group and provides access to a larger arena of helpful resources and experiences;
  • co-facilitators can provide mutual support as they reflect on what’s working well and strategize about what could be better or what next steps make sense;
  • co-facilitators’ behavior towards each other can help model and set the tone for collaborative, power-sharing relationships among group members;
  • logistically, having two facilitators decreases the likelihood of needing to reschedule a session in the case of illness, emergencies, etc.
What are the benefits of facilitating a Community of Practice?

CoP facilitators will have the unique experience of collaborating with other change-oriented people from an array of roles and institutions across the region in a collaborative and asset-focused environment. They can expect to learn with participants and gain experience facilitating this type of collaborative learning process, including using remote digital engagement tools and harvesting resources and shared knowledge. In addition, facilitators receive a $500 stipend.

How are facilitators selected?

Seed Coalition staff will review applications and select facilitators using the following criteria:

  • demonstrated commitment to leadership on the issue you select or propose; experience facilitating collaborative group processes;
  • willingness to commit to the entire CoP program from orientation through evaluation (October – May);
  • interest in both developing your own leadership and co-creating resources and learning opportunities for others;
  • affiliation with a Seed Coalition member for those at higher education institutions.
How do I apply?

We accept and consider facilitator applications on a rolling basis. Those who have identified a co-facilitator can submit one joint application. Individuals can submit their own and Seed Coalition staff will match applicants with one another.

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Seed Coalition strengthens the capacity of colleges and universities to fulfill the public purposes of higher education through its coalition of diverse college campuses in Iowa, Minnesota, and the Midwest. Our network includes rural and urban campuses, public universities and private colleges, community colleges, and trade schools.

We connect higher education professionals who work in the spaces of community and civic engagement and educate students through community and civic learning experiences. Learn about our mission and values and meet our members.

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