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Anna Sims Bartel is associate director, community-engaged curricula and practice, focusing primarily on work with faculty. Her experiences at three very different institutions have taught her that faculty come at the work of engagement from very different places and for very different purposes, and she honors that; her goal is to make higher education ever more useful in the world by addressing public problems and creating public goods, and faculty are of course core to that effort.
Anna Sims Bartel earned her Ph.D. in comparative literature at Cornell in 2001. Why literature, you ask? Because stories are the common denominator of human experience, so learning to read them, respect them, make sense of and from them, situate them in larger contexts and generally admire their beauty and operation seems kind of important. Needless to say, she found lots of ways to connect her work to the world at large, first through the Public Service Center’s Graduate Student School Outreach Project, which she directed while dissertating, and then through two years’ work with the Provost’s Office, networking and supporting the various engagement efforts in place at the time. After leaving Cornell in 2003, she worked as faculty and director of experiential education at Wartburg College in Iowa, organizing for and building a Center for Community Engagement (along with teaching and doing faculty development around various forms of engagement). She left Iowa for Maine, serving next as faculty and associate director of Bates College’s Harward Center for Community Partnerships, where she built two signature programs (the Bonner Leader Fellows Program and the Community-Based Research Fellows Program) and worked with a staff of amazing colleagues spanning volunteerism, student leadership development, community-based learning, engaged-curriculum design and public scholarship.
Suffice it to say, she’s really into all this. Her other interests are vast and include gardening, singing, fiber arts, cooking and eating, being outdoors and basking in the presence of her astonishingly wonderful family.
Anna has served on a variety of boards, most recently that of Community Concepts, Inc., a community action agency serving three counties in Central and Western Maine, where she was instrumental in advancing a collective impact approach to try to “move the needle” on perennial problems. She has also been an active scholar and facilitator with the Maine Humanities Council, which is brilliant. She continues to serve on the board of the national Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, and she is excited to see what crops up around Ithaca to get involved with.
Anna’s current research interests are broad and include civic poetry, the U.S. agrarian novel and, of course, service-learning and civic engagement. Her most recent publication, “Why Public Policy Needs the Humanities, and How,” is now published in the Maine Policy Review.