November Faculty Spotlight: Maranda Ward

Our November faculty spotlight is Nashman affiliate faculty, Dr. Maranda C. Ward from GW's School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). She is currently teaching two Nashman designated Community-Engaged Scholarship courses.  One is an online course where she serves as the course director and has integrated IRB-approved research funded by the GW SMHS Center for Faculty Excellence, HSCI 2110: Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  The other is funded by a Nashman course development grant, HSCI 2195: Applied Health Equity.  Nashman's Community-Engaged Scholar, Emebte Atanaw, sat down with Dr. Ward to ask about her role as an Nashman affiliate faculty and her newest course offering.  

Dr. Ward is a member of two Nashman Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs): Black Lives Matter and Community-Based Participatory Research. Both FLCs began in January and have met throughout the year. Dr. Ward explained that she joined the Black Lives Matter FLC because she “wanted to be connected to other faculty that shared similar commitments to developing inclusive spaces and talk about the complex meanings attached to race. She adds, "it was really exciting to see that it wasn’t just all black faculty- it was actually faculty that identify in a range of ways who care and believe that black and brown lives matter.”  

She also joined the Community-Based Participatory Research FLC stating, “I’ve always been civically engaged in DC. I am an educator and use DC as my classroom whether this includes undergraduates at GW or DC youth in my after school program. I wanted to be engaged in an FLC that had community at its center. I also wanted to be engaged with other faculty who believe in the power of community voice.” She looks forward to leading a new FLC in the coming year focused on Community Engaged Scholarship in Online Courses.

 Dr. Ward noted that she works with many organizations here in DC. “Other than my ANC work, the most prominent organization that I work with is my own- Promising Futures. Back when I was a student at GW I received the Knapp Fellowship and used the funds to translate my dissertation research on youth identity into an arts-based curriculum. I engaged the DC youth in my program to express their identity in an artistic way and hosted a community conversation in Ward 8. As former faculty in the GW School of Business (GWSB) developing and teaching their service-learning curriculum, one of my former students asked me to advise him on his own non-profit interests to serve DC youth. He now operates the Equal Education Fund and formally partners with the DC youth in my program pairing them with fifteen GW college students as their mentors. And, one of my other former GWSB students created a GW student-run consultant firm currently funded by the Nashman Center to build organizational capacity to DC community-based organizations based on a service-project integrated in one of my courses. To say this is fulfilling work is an understatement." 

We asked Dr. Ward for advice for students who are trying to get more involved with community service work at GW. Not only did she distinguish between the concepts of community service, service-learning, and community engagement but she also praised The Nashman Center as “a great resource for increasing the visibility of a range of different partners". She laughed that "there's the 'foggy bottom bubble' and the types of classes I teach are aimed at popping that bubble." She continued, "The Nashman Center is in a great position to introduce students to the rich culture and history of DC. I think there's a lot of misconceptions about places outside of Northwest. There is power and resources East of the River and I feel like The Nashman Center can bring awareness to the great things happening there. In fact, introducing these things first is an important first step when talking about ways to engage within the community because if you only go East of the River to serve in a so-called low-performing school you will continue to have a deficit oriented lens about those neighborhoods.”  

The Nashman Center is delighted to have Dr. Ward as an affiliated faculty member. Visit our website to learn more about our Nashman Affiliated Faculty and their work. You can meet and hear from the students in Dr. Ward's community-engaged courses at the Symposium on Community-Engaged Scholarship taking place on campus on Friday December 7th. Click here.

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