Professional Development

HECUA specializes in an experiential, learner-centered approach that connects students, faculty, and institutions of higher education with communities.

HECUA provides faculty and staff development on a contract basis to institutions seeking to expand their visions of higher education and democracy. HECUA has experience in delivering high-quality professional education programs in a variety of areas such as experiential education, diversity and higher education, civic engagement and community collaboration, student-centered teaching, transformative pedagogies, service-learning and social justice, arts and social change, public art, and environmental justice. HECUA offers professional education in the Twin Cities, Ecuador, Italy, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Norway.

HECUA can work with individuals, campus offices, or specific departments to develop programs specifically for both faculty and larger institutions. Programs have included multi-day workshops on integrating community-based experiential education into existing or new courses; a two-week immersion at one of our sites; and multi-year, multi-faceted efforts to develop curriculum and support for diversity, civic engagement, service learning, or other institutional needs.

Examples of Professional Education Programs

Professional Development Seminars, University of St. Thomas
Over multiple days in the early summer, these HECUA workshops engaged faculty and staff in conversation with community leaders and organizations.

  • Year 5: “Hungering for Justice in the Twin Cities.”
    Food, hunger, and justice, and ways to connect with communities and community organizations working on a spectrum of issues related to food, including food access, sustainable and local food production, and hunger relief.
  • Year 4: Stewardship of the Commons: Reclaiming the “We.”
    The land, water, and cultural spaces we share: how to help students think about how to be stewards of what we hold in common–both the finite resources of our planet and the cultural resources of communities.
  • Year 3: Social Entrepreneurship and Justice in the Twin Cities.
    Individuals and groups making change, from small businesses in the East African community to groups seeking to ensure the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project serves all.
  • Years 1 and 2: Exploring the Intercultural in the Twin Cities.
    Ethnic communities, race, and racial dynamics in the Twin Cities.

Macalester Urban Faculty Seminar

In collaboration with Macalester faculty and staff, HECUA provided multi-day seminars to introduce faculty to a variety of methods of community engagement and to provoke discussion of ethical and epistemological considerations about how faculty, staff, and students from an elite institution can enter communities.

Teaching and Learning in the City with St. Olaf College

St. Olaf College and HECUA worked in partnership on a three-year project designed to develop first-year seminars that explore the role of experience in education, provide first-hand experience with issues of diversity, and make connections between global and local. The core of the work was the development of a series of courses for first-year students that give students direct experience with a wide range of people, cultures, and issues. HECUA facilitated “urban immersion” experiences in the Twin Cities as part of the courses and worked with faculty to design courses with intentional experiences and social justice frameworks.

Service-Learning for Social Justice in Northern Ireland with Gustavus Adolphus College

A group of faculty and administrators from Gustavus Adolphus College attended a week-long seminar entitled “Service Learning for Social Justice” at HECUA¹s site in Northern Ireland. HECUA program directors worked closely with Gustavus faculty in a retreat-like setting exploring issues in Northern Ireland and developing service-learning courses. Participants also focused on creating a seminar to continue conversations back on campus around better connecting students and courses to social themes through experiential and service learning tools.

Group Wheels: Exploring Public Art and Social Change at St. Catherine University

HECUA provided a one-day urban immersion program for the School of Social Work. This art tour highlighted public works in the Longfellow, Capitol Hill, and West Side neighborhoods of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The program was funded through a Bush Foundation grant focused on community collaboration and issues of diversity on campus and focused on the use of public art as a vehicle for social change.

Summer Workshop on Democracy and the City with the Lutheran College Consortium

A summer workshop designed and led by HECUA staff included a “mobile workshop” that guided participants in reading the urban landscape. It included field experiences and interaction with a variety of community artists and organizers. Faculty, staff, and students from St. Olaf College, Luther College, Concordia-Moorhead, and Gustavus Adolphus College took up important questions of diversity and higher education.

Would you like to explore professional development options through HECUA?
Contact Mohamed Sallam, HECUA’s Director of Programs, at

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