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Lewis & Clark in the Community

Note: The following report was prepared in 2007 and discusses many of ways Lewis & Clark has been involved the Portland community in recent years. For more the most up-to-date news and information about Lewis & Clark’s local and global community engagement, visit our Newsroom.

Community Engagement Report 2007

Lewis & Clark is a private institution with a public conscience and international reach. Each day thousands of Lewis & Clark alumni, students, faculty, and staff initiate positive changes in communities around the globe, including those close to our campus in Portland, Oregon.

Lewis & Clark community members visibly make the city of Portland a better place to live and work, and a more compelling place to visit. Through internships, volunteer service, practica, and legal clinics, students from Lewis & Clark contribute more than 145,000 hours of service to the community each year. Through stellar research and academic leadership, faculty members from Lewis & Clark help make Portland an internationally known center of creativity. By organizing events in which participants think outside the limits of conventional wisdom, the staff, faculty, and students of Lewis & Clark help draw to Portland even more visionaries and problem-solvers from around the world. And with their daily work in schools, law firms, government offices, media outlets, arts organizations, local businesses, nonprofit agencies, and innumerable other pursuits, the alumni of Lewis & Clark help Portland thrive.

What follows are just a few of the ways that our community engages Portland’s communities. To learn more about the impact that Lewis & Clark has on Portland, the Northwest, the United States, and the world, please explore more of our website.

Creating a Sustainable Future

Few places are greener than Portland; in 2006, SustainLane ranked our city first in sustainability among 50 U.S. cities. Every school at Lewis & Clark contributes to Portland’s national and international environmental leadership. From an environmental law program that is frequently ranked first in the nation, to a visionary undergraduate program, to the graduate school’s application of psychology to the creation of greener communities, Lewis & Clark is a leader in the move toward a more sustainable future for the city and the world.

Consider the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC), one of five legal clinics at Lewis & Clark Law School. Students working with PEAC have contributed substantially to improving the environment and raising public awareness on a regional, national, and even global level, winning cases for wildlife and a healthy environment. In April 2007, PEAC helped win a ruling against violators of the Endangered Species Act. The decision will improve protections for endangered salmon and steelhead trout on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Law students aren’t the only ones contributing to Portland’s environmental leadership. Students in our undergraduate environmental studies program are studying sensitive local habitats, including treasured natural resources such as the Tryon Creek and Alder-Jordan Creek watersheds and the Columbia Slough, with the help of a grant from the Mellon Foundation. Eban Goodstein, an economics professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, is receiving national recognition for his bold Focus the Nation project, which unites colleges, universities, and high schools around the country in the quest for solutions to global warming.

During the summer of 2007, the graduate school convened a conference of mental-health leaders to explore how the field of psychology can move society toward a sustainable future. Cosponsored by Lewis & Clark and the Center for Earth Leadership, the three-day Psychology, Ecology, Sustainability conference examined the relationship between humans and nature, the health benefits of green spaces, the effects of rampant consumerism on environmental degradation, and the improvement of grassroots sustainability initiatives.

Improving Public Education

Portland is home to about 100 K-12 public schools and myriad special programs to help students succeed. Lewis & Clark students, faculty, staff, and alumni work and volunteer throughout these schools and programs to strengthen the education of Portland’s children. Each year, some 360 students from the Graduate School of Education and Counseling work in practica and internships around the Portland metro area—about 200 of them in teacher education and school counseling, the rest in educational administration and counseling psychology. Upon graduation, many move directly to careers in Portland and across the state. Over the past five years, Lewis & Clark has produced almost 1,800 educators, most establishing careers within a 100-mile radius of the institution. More than 4,300 alumni work in education and counseling in Oregon and southwest Washington.

For two decades, Lewis & Clark has collaborated with area schools through the Oregon Writing Project, which provides teachers with a valuable resource not only for writing instruction but also for professional development, leadership, and reform. Teachers from all over the state participate in the summer institutes.

The commitment to a new future for education also extends to the undergraduate campus. Through a course in education in modern society, undergraduate students volunteer in the classrooms of local schools five hours a week and take part in discussions about the social and political forces shaping the school system.

Biology professor Kellar Autumn—internationally renowned for his research on how geckos use nanostructures to adhere to surfaces in seemingly impossible ways—each year leads 100 fourth- and fifth-graders in exploring science-related activities, groups, and facilities like gecko research, the Electric Car Club, the campus astronomical observatory, and spider research labs. Psychology professor Erik Nilsen’s Human-Computer Interaction class helps middle school science classes study earthquake sonification. Over the summer, undergraduate students and faculty team up with K-12 and community college teachers to research exciting developments in mathematics and computer science, with funding support provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Their work will continue in the summers of 2008 and 2009.

Building on our heritage of distinction in the performing arts and international education, music department chair Dave Becker leads the Oregon Ambassadors of Music Program, which takes hundreds of high school band and choir students and dozens of teachers from across the state to Europe for biennial concert tours and a perspective-shifting international experience. During the summer of 2007, the ambassadors—representing more than 80 Oregon schools—performed in London, Paris, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. In the process, students get a taste of the international experience that has long been a valued part of education at Lewis & Clark.

As for the law school, 30 members of the Minority and Black Law Students Associations mentored North Portland high school students who were considered at risk of dropping out in 2006. Law school students and staff also hold an annual mock trial during National Minority Law Student Recruitment Month that helps foster a sense of self-confidence and a practical understanding of the law for low-income and minority students. The program encourages these students to consider a law career. Led by J.B. Kim, director of the Academic Enhancement Program, several Lewis & Clark law students guide nearly 100 local high school students through a mock trial exercise. Students are divided into prosecution and defense teams and present their cases to a local district judge. Now in its fifth year, the event has nearly doubled in participation since it began.

Supporting Multiculturalism and Addressing Local Needs

As the home to Native American peoples, Euro-American settlers, and immigrants from Asia, Europe, and Latin America, Oregon has long known many cultures. Today, Portland and the rest of Oregon are becoming even more diverse as people from across the country and the globe migrate here. In myriad ways, all three schools at Lewis & Clark help celebrate and build Portland’s multicultural heritage and aspirations.

Undergraduate students work closely with local minority groups to learn and to teach. Undergraduate Chinese-language students travel to Woodstock Elementary School to tutor students as part of our new Chinese immersion program. Russian-language students from Lewis & Clark go to local high schools to work with Russian-speaking high school students, and invite these students to Lewis & Clark for a daylong glimpse of college life. Similarly, communications students work with students in the Spanish-English International School, located on the Roosevelt High School campus, to research and create presentations on neglected or forgotten heroes of color, and then invite the students to Lewis & Clark for what may be their first inside look at a college environment. In addition, students at the College of Arts and Sciences studying Japanese are collecting the oral histories of local Japanese-Americans who were held in internment camps during World War II. Students are contributing their reports to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center.

Faculty and staff members of the College of Arts and Sciences work to support multiculturalism as well. History professor Steven Dow Beckham, a nationally recognized expert on Native American peoples and history, serves as an expert witness for numerous Native American groups and consults with local governments on native affairs. Staff members have provided support to the Asian American Youth Leadership Conference at Lewis & Clark, which draws 400 to 450 Asian American high school students from the local community.

The graduate school’s Oregon Center for Inquiry and Social Innovation offers an ongoing lecture series on topics such as immigration services and tribal programs. In the spring of 2007, the center hosted conversations on how hip-hop serves as a cultural bridge between youth in Africa and America, what it is like to live in Portland as a person of Iranian ancestry, and the experiences of U.S. veterans coming home from combat. These conversations allow members of the Portland community to hear and discuss the interests and concerns of the city’s diverse population.

Funded by the Ford Foundation, the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Project at the graduate school began in the fall of 2005 to create systems of support for incoming Native American students and faculty and a curriculum that will help graduate students work effectively in an increasingly complex, multicultural world. In addition to this work, graduate students at the Center for Community Engagement are videotaping oral history interviews with contemporary Native American leaders, focusing on the efforts of tribes to preserve their constitutionally protected status as sovereign governments.

At the law school students, faculty, and staff are actively involved in local organizations representing minorities, including Oregon Minority Lawyers Association, Oregon Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association, and Oregon Women Lawyers.

Members of the Lewis & Clark community work to support Portland in other ways as well. Last fall, the law school provided a major boon to emerging entrepreneurs in the area when it launched the Small Business Legal Clinic (SBLC), the capstone of the law school’s efforts to offer a comprehensive range of services to economically disadvantaged residents of Portland. Directed by Maggie Finnerty, clinical law professor and former corporate attorney, law school students work with pro bono lawyers specializing in business law to provide free and sliding-scale legal services to start-up businesses, especially those owned by women, minorities, and recent immigrants. Entrepreneurs who qualify can get advice in transactional matters such as debt management, financing, bylaws, leases, contracts, and copyrights. As of spring 2007, 13 students were devoting about 1,350 volunteer hours (annually) to the SBLC and barely keeping up with demand. Only two months into the year, the SBLC had already received inquiries from 70 potential clients.

Learn More

To learn more about how Lewis & Clark community members create positive change in Portland and throughout the world, please explore more of our website. Like our community service, the Lewis & Clark story is always evolving and growing.

If you have a story you would like to share with us about Lewis & Clark’s community service, we would love to hear it. Just send an e-mail to our director of public relations, and don’t forget to include your contact information so we can say thank you.

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