Susan Harris, Samantha Bernstein-Sierra, and Sable Manson presenting a poster

JEP’s Academic Endeavors: Navigating Continuums of Service and Advancing Research Globally

ByKathrin Rising

In the expansive realm of academia, JEP transcends USC’s campus, actively participating in research, offering conference workshops, and collaborating on initiatives across diverse academic institutions. A significant highlight this calendar year has been JEP’s active involvement in two prominent conferences: the Continuums of Service Conference and the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) Conference.

The Continuums of Service Conference, a longstanding engagement for JEP Executive Director, Susan Harris, provided a distinctive platform for JEP to contribute meaningfully. Under the theme “Riding the Waves,” the conference emphasized mental health and well-being. Attendees engaged in hands-on service activities with local Hawaiian organizations, making valuable contributions to the community. 

Susan Harris, alongside JEP professional staff Sable Manson and Samantha Bernstein-Sierra, presented research on critical service-learning. A separate session addressed post-pandemic support for students and communities. JEP Associate Director, Tina Koneazny, alongside her sister, Mary Ruppenthal, presented insights into creating physical spaces supporting mental health and well-being in schools, exploring the intersection of green structures and programs like JEP’s Little Yoginis. 

The IARSLCE Conference, an international gathering focused on research on service-learning and community engagement, benefited from extensive participation from Susan Harris, JEP graduate assistant Jodi Liu, and Samantha Bernstein-Sierra. Colleagues from Campus Contact and Merrimack College joined the trio in hosting a discussion session on potential avenues into service-learning and community engagement for interested graduate students, researchers, and academics. The discussion included insights into structured pathways, such as dedicated graduate programs or micro-credentials.

The conversation on facilitating meaningful graduate student engagement is not new at JEP, exemplified by a Spring 2019 learning community on Engaged Graduate Education. Twenty graduate students across USC’s diverse schools seized the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and connect with speakers deeply involved in this work. Jody Liu’s current research on graduate student perceptions aligns with her role as the Community Service Chair for USC’s graduate student government. Jody, along with JEP staff, is planning a dedicated graduate student lunch in January to explore how JEP can better serve this demographic.

Drawing from her experience publishing her own work and her current position as co-editor at the International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, Susan Harris also contributed to an IARSLCE Conference panel of editors aimed at demystifying the publication process to make it more accessible for researchers aspiring to contribute to the field. As an academic by training, she appreciates conferences as pivotal for learning, presenting, and networking with individuals involved in service-learning within their respective classrooms, academic institutions, or organizations.


To read more articles that were featured in the Fall 2023 Edition of “What’s new at the JEP House?” please click here: What’s New at the JEP House? – Fall 2023 – USC Joint Educational Project