Intentional Community

Across our campus, students, faculty and staff express the desire to create intentional community. What could this mean for the DU community? What values and outlooks should we uphold?

  • Carole Eigsti

    Community Service day/weekend for all faculty, staff, students to work together to help the Greater Denver community.

  • Dave

    We talked a lot about this at the luncheon. Social psychology tells us there are four ways to bring people together: 1, create a shared identity, which generally involves exclusivity; 2, meaningful shared experience (probably our best bet); 3, collective social comparison (we all want to be something we are not); 4, strengthen in-group adversarial feeling against an out-group (probably not what we are after). Here’s an example – if you had made everyone who came to the luncheon make a basket (we were in the gym, after all) before they could eat, we would have been a tighter, more social group.

  • Joe

    This was shared at our table. I was not part of this conversation.

    This group would like to see more specific programs that intentionally bring students, staff, and faculty together, such as workshops and lectures. The Author’s Lecture that took place in the library yesterday is a good example. It brought all three groups together. The Provost’s luncheon should be open to students. There should a method or a way to get a different students to sit at different tables so that faculty and staff can meet students from different units. The incubators should include students, faculty, and staff. They should share information across the board. Values to uphold: Innovative ideas, inclusiveness, ethics, and diversity.

  • Virginia Pitts

    At the end of the Provost’s luncheon last week, the Provost asked folks to stand up and shout out, in five words or less, what they’d like to have happen as a result of these strategic planning efforts. It occurred to me later that my five-word vision would be “DU is a learning community”. I share that here because it certainly relates to intentional community. To me, a learning community is about more than the availability of learning opportunities (and it extends well-beyond doing research in the traditional sense of the word). It means that as a whole (and as groups within the whole) we always have questions in front of us that we are collectively seeking the answers to together. It means we have intentionally created a culture where, in our day-to-day interactions, it is absolutely as important and valued to ask questions (which requires starting out by admitting we don’t know all the answers!) as it is to have answers in the first place. This is no small thing in an academic environment, where the culture often places a premium on what one knows, not what one asks. Yet given the proportion of all that we know in the world to all that we still have to figure out, I think we paradoxically can fall into the trap of spending more time talking about what we think we know (and trying to convince others we are right) than we do asking questions and trying to discover new answers.

    So, I think it would be amazing if we were to come up with some “big questions” that we could place at the center of our collective inquiry as a community. Some of these questions might focus on our own community itself (such as the one I mentioned in a previous post of “How can we collaborate in ways that bring out, and make the most of, the greatest potential in every team member to make a contribution?”) and other questions might have a broader community or world focus (such as the work some members of DU Sustainability Council are engaged in around questions like “What is social sustainability and how can we promote it?”). I actually believe we’ve already started this kind of process through the strategic planning work itself (through the questions that are guiding the work of each of the strategic planning groups). I’d love to see this kind of collective inquiry expand and become the heart of all that we do at DU.


    One more thought around how we might create more of a sense of community. Joe (above) mentioned the idea of having more programs that intentionally bring together faculty, staff, and students (I love that!). And of course we’ve talked a lot about the importance of breaking down silos (which is in part about creating and taking advantage of opportunities to collaborate with and learn from folks who are not part of our departments). I wonder what would happen if we were to create a DU version of, where any DU community member or organization can initiate such opportunities for staff, faculty, and students to come together around their passions or interests or questions they care about. On top of that, perhaps we could figure out how to create a “buzz” around this that would encourage folks across DU to frequently check in (so that it really does become a “go to” place for folks who are interested in becoming more involved in the DU community). Just a thought. ☺