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By Grant Borneman

The Carolina Center for Public Service is proud to join Carolina Across 100, Innovate Carolina, UNC Rural, Carolina Engagement Council, ncIMPACT Initiative, Center for Health Equity Research and other partners in co-organizing Engagement Week 2023.

What is Carolina Engagement Week?

April Parker is wearing a magenta jacket and standing with a brown and white horse in a large enclosed facility filled with sand.
Restoring Moms Project is a partnership to help women heal from maternal mental health issues using equine-assisted activities and process groups. Featured here is Clinical Assistant Professor April Parker from the School of Social Work.

Carolina Engagement Week, which will take place on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, with some online opportunities, between Feb. 27-March 3, 2023, is a celebration of community-driven partnerships powered by state and local community leaders and Carolina faculty, staff and students. During Carolina Engagement Week 2023, you can explore the many ways Carolina is involved in engaged teaching, research and service.

Engagement Week illustrates the ways university resources and involvement with community-specific knowledge can provide a positive impact in communities across North Carolina. Last year, Engagement Week featured events with topics ranging from cancer care research to community-driven solutions for more equitable health outcomes and so much more. With the motto “from mountain to sea,” it is clear that engaged teaching, research and service at Carolina comes in a variety of forms.

Recapping Carolina Engagement Week 2022

Someone wearing a blue Durham bulls cap, denim jacket and orange You Can Vote shirt talks to a student about the voter registration form. The students are outside of the union at UNC-Chapel Hill
Jessica Sullivan registers voters outside of the Carolina Student Union.

With the challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Carolina Engagement Week 2022 sought to shine a much-needed spotlight on the good that can happen when university and community partners come together to tackle the challenges of the day.

One event sought to do this through increasing voter participation. A local community organization, You Can Vote, held a training session through Engagement Week to teach participants how to register new voters.

“It was valuable to include that training within Engagement Week to emphasize that voter registration, voter education and voting are important ways that students, staff and faculty are participating in the life of our communities off-campus,” said Ryan Nilsen, a senior program officer at the Carolina Center for Public Service. Nilsen helped organize the event in partnership with You Can Vote.

The event took place just weeks before the Spring 2022 primary elections. “The timing was perfect for inviting participants to learn about how to register voters and engage their own communities more fully,” Nilsen said. “They were able to engage in our democracy through elections that don’t typically have as high participation.”

A group of hackathon participants pose in a large hallway with Carolina Across 100 hackathon event organizers
Photo courtesy of Carolina Across 100. A group of hackathon participants pose in a large hallway with Carolina Across 100, who organized the event.

Some events engaged students in other ways. The Carolina Across 100 initiative hosted a Civic Hackathon, which was a competition involving the creation of data visualization and infographics. Jessica Dorrance, the Hackathon’s lead organizer, described it as “a useful way to get students engaged across campus and across local communities.”

The Hackathon challenged students to develop visualizations using data focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across North Carolina. After the competition, Carolina Across 100 distributed the infographics to local community leaders as a resource to illustrate some of the issues facing North Carolina communities.

You Can Vote and the Civic Hackathon are just two of the many presentations and workshops that helped promote community engagement during Carolina Engagement Week 2022. With your participation as a presenter or a participant, Engagement Week 2023 will be even more successful and inspiring!

Register for as many events as you’d like–all events are free and open to the public! Help us spread the word.


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