Lauren Shinholster, associate director of engaged learning at Mercer University, has been chosen for Campus Compact’s 2023-2024 cohort of Engaged Scholars as part of its Engaged Scholars Initiative. She is among 14 faculty, staff and administrators selected from Campus Compact member institutions across the country.
“It is an honor to represent Mercer in the Engaged Scholars Initiative,” Shinholster said. “This program is an investment in deepening my understanding of critical service-learning and community-engaged research and scholarship. I believe that our university is primed to elevate our approach to community-engaged learning. Placing greater emphasis on preparation, equitable partnerships, and increasing access to engaged-learning experiences will benefit Mercer faculty, staff, students and community partners. I look forward to contributing and learning from the cohort.”
The Engaged Scholars Initiative is a yearlong collaborative learning and leadership program. Each cohort consists of a diverse group of early-career faculty and staff who are equipped to lead equity-focused change at their institution and in communities.
Scholars were nominated by institutional leaders and were selected based on their commitment to centering equity in their civic and community engagement work. Members of the cohort hold a wide variety of roles on their campuses, but each has a demonstrated history of effective civic and community engagement work. These highly qualified scholars come from Campus Compact member institutions across the country, representing 13 institutions from 11 states.
As a key member of Mercer’s Center for Engaged Learning team, Shinholster supports high-impact practices with a particular focus on service-learning courses and Research That Reaches Out, a blended practice of service and research. Prior to her arrival at Mercer, she served as a community educator for the Safe Routes to School program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Arriving at Mercer in 2017, Shinholster previously served as coordinator of community engagement, a role that bridged student affairs and academic life through mentorship and oversight of student-led service and civic engagement programs. In her current role, she leads initiatives that facilitate equity-centered teaching and service partnerships. Shinholster holds a Master of Public Health degree in health promotion and behavior from the University of Georgia and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Spelman College.
“In her role within the Center for Engaged Learning, Ms. Shinholster works across disciplinary boundaries — and campus boundaries — to help faculty, staff, students and community members engage in equitable service learning and civic engagement activities,” said Dr. Kathy Kloepper, vice provost of engaged learning and director of the Center for Engaged Learning. “I look forward to learning from her when she facilitates future on-campus discussions about what she learns as part of the Engaged Scholars Initiative Cohort.”
Over the course of the academic year, Shinholster and her cohort will participate in professional development, virtual learning opportunities, retreats and individual support through mentoring and coaching. The aim of the program is to strengthen individual and collective scholarship, research, and impact.
“Ms. Shinholster is deeply invested in community-engaged work in her role as associate director of engaged learning,” said Mercer Provost Dr. D. Scott Davis. “Participation in this cohort positions Ms. Shinholster, who is already skilled at leading professional development events such as workshops, to facilitate new discussions at Mercer about engaged scholarship.”
The Engaged Scholars Initiative is led by Campus Compact and is offered in partnership with the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College and the Office of Engagement at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. The Lang Center at Swarthmore College and The Office of Engagement at the University of Nebraska – Omaha are strategic partners whose thought leadership, in-kind staffing, and financial support are critical to the success of the program. Read more about the Engaged Scholars Initiative on the Campus Compact website at compact.org/current-programs/engaged-scholars-initiative.