In Brief: BTtoP News and Notes


BTtoP Holds PLACE Collaboratory Launch Convening in Greensboro, North Carolina

In June, BTtoP was awarded a generous $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund its Partnerships for Listening and Action by Communities and Educators (PLACE) Collaboratory. The collaboratory brings together a network of academic-community partnerships, involving eleven colleges and universities from diverse sectors and regions, to do civic engagement and public humanities work. Using cultural practices like oral history or photo-voice, as well as the civic pedagogies of the humanities, these partnerships are developing shared public agendas that ground the setting and solving of community issues in community voice.

From Tuesday, October 1 to Friday, October 4, a group of 37 academic, community, and student partners came together for the inaugural convening hosted by our collaborators in Greensboro, North Carolina. The convening brought together representatives from all four regional hubs: Rutgers University–Newark; the Greensboro region; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the southern Los Angeles region. In venues like the Greensboro History Museum, the Beloved Community Center, the Elsewhere Museum, the Greensboro Project Space, and the Greensboro Cultural Center, participants discussed their local projects and the development of action plans grounded in community voice and enabled by academic-community partnerships. The event included presentations by Kenneth Reardon from the University of Massachusetts Boston on community-centered urban development and by Joyce and Reverend Nelson Johnson on Greensboro’s complex history with civil rights and truth and reconciliation. On a national scale, the collaboratory brainstormed methods of distilling best practices, modeling the role of the humanities in sustaining them, and using networked collaboration to disseminate them across higher education. For more information on PLACE, visit:

BTtoP Welcomes Kate Griffin, PLACE Collaboratory Project Coordinator

BTtoP is thrilled to welcome Kate Griffin to the team as the new Partnerships for Listening and Action By Communities and Educators (PLACE) project coordinator. She brings multiple years of experience as a leader, connector, teacher, and facilitator in spheres of social impact, arts and humanities, equity and advocacy, and mental wellness for college students. In her role as PLACE project coordinator, Kate will use her experience to manage the PLACE Collaboratory, a two-year Mellon-funded initiative that brings together a network of academic-community partnerships, involving eleven colleges and universities from diverse sectors and regions, to do civic engagement and public humanities work. The project coordinator serves a crucial role in managing relationships among the participating institutions and community partnerships, sustaining ongoing communications among participants and organizing twice-yearly network convenings, and building a community of practice based on inclusive relationships and shared agenda-setting among diverse stakeholders. Please join us in welcoming Kate as she helps lead the PLACE Collaboratory during what we hope is a generative two-year journey.

Look for BTtoP at the AAC&U Annual Meeting   

Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) is honored to be participating once more in the Association of American Colleges and Universities annual meeting, to take place January 22–25, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Our sessions will again follow a fishbowl format, inaugurated at last year’s annual meeting. This year’s fishbowls will include the following topics:

  • “Listening With: A Model for Community Engagement”
  • “Redesigning College: Whole Education for the Whole Student”

For those unfamiliar with this format, an inaugural circle of four or five discussants will unpack the theme in conversation for twenty to thirty minutes, with the surrounding audience “overhearing” their dialogue. Then, individual audience members will be invited to tap into the fishbowl, replacing discussants and offering their own questions, comments, disagreements, and stories. The resulting conversation will be wide-ranging, expansive, and also focused, with room for disagreement and unexpected connections and insights. To learn more about our sessions and speakers, visit:

We’ll also be hosting our annual BTtoP Reception on Friday evening at 5:45 p.m. We cherish the opportunity to be with new and old friends alike.

For more information and updates on the 2020 annual meeting, please visit:


BTtoP Director David Scobey Attends the Great Colleges Network 2019 Summer Institute 

The Great Colleges Network (GCN) is a network of educational leaders from institutions and programs that provide superb baccalaureate education for adult, nontraditional students. Last August, GCN held its third summer institute at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. David joined other educational leaders to share best practices and collaborate on the advancement of innovative education for new majority learners.

BTtoP Director David Scobey Presents at Carthage College 

In September, BTtoP Director David Scobey presented at “Will Communities Save the Small American College,” a conference at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin.” The conference addressed questions central to the importance of partnerships between higher education and the community. For example, how might a college be meaningful to those who live near it? And what do colleges do, or could they do, so that they would be truly missed locally if they moved or dissolved? The conference brought together higher education leaders and members of the community to lead in the thinking, researching, and advocacy of academic-community partnerships. 

BTtoP Staff Attend the National Gathering of Imagining America in Albuquerque

David Scobey and Kate Griffin attended the annual national meeting of Imagining America, “Mighty Dreams: Designing and Fostering Belonging in ‘America’” from October 18 to 20. Founded in 1998, Imagining America is a consortium of nearly one hundred academic institutions and cultural organizations dedicated to the civic and democratic role of cultural and creative disciplines. Its annual national gathering is an important occasion for civically engaged artists, humanists, designers, and culture makers to share work and build a movement for public cultural engagement. This year’s gathering, in partnership with the University of New Mexico, considered how we define, design, and foster belonging in our home communities and as a nation-state. David Scobey, BTtoP’s director, has been involved with Imagining America for several years, and BTtoP has worked with the consortium on a variety of projects.