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ACU receives CCCU grant focusing on immigration, inclusion


Students from various departments and majors take part in a simulation of a special education meeting through ACU's Interprofessional Education Program.

The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities announced last week that Abilene Christian University is one of six CCCU-member institutions selected to receive a $10,000 grant as a part of the Inclusion Immigration Collaborative. 

The grant is designed to support projects that engage students with other groups to build more inclusive and welcoming communities across the U.S., specifically engaging with immigrant communities. 

“As Christians, our role in the American project should be one of hospitality. Bridge-building, practicing proximity in plurality, and living out of the parable of the Good Samaritan are key components of the CCCU, and these schools are living that out. I look forward to hearing the stories to come from these projects,” said CCCU president Shirley Hoogstra.

The Inclusion Immigration Collaborative initiative intersects with a project already underway at ACU called the Interprofessional Education Program. The College of Education and Human Services and the School of Nursing are collaborating to explore opportunities for students to learn in interprofessional teams to solve complex problems. The IPE program involves large- and small-scale simulation experiences as well as 1-hour courses focused on developing strong skills in working in interprofessional teams, including communication, relationship-building and problem-solving skills. 

“A significant issue our students will face in practice is inequity in education and healthcare access,” said Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker, dean of ACU’s College of Education and Human Services. “So, our next step in developing our program is to add a course that specifically addresses diversity, equity and inclusion in education and healthcare services. When we saw the CCCU’s call for the Inclusion Immigration Collaborative, we thought it was a great fit to help us move forward.”

The CCCU grant funds will go toward developing a 1-hour IPE course exploring best practices for interprofessional teams working with diverse populations. The course will encourage creative thinking across disciplines in order to build capacity for ACU students who work in the education and healthcare fields to connect with those new to the U.S., and it will be offered beginning in Spring 2022.

“We plan to partner with local agencies, such as the International Rescue Committee in Abilene, so students have the opportunity to connect regularly and build relationships with neighbors in Abilene who are new to the U.S.,” Shewmaker said. “Our hope is that our project will build connections that can support strong intergroup relations between our students and those seeking refuge within our community.”

Other schools receiving the grant funding are Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon College, Lee University, Toccoa Falls College and Westmont College. 

— Wendy Kilmer

Oct. 20, 2021

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