Since its founding in 1991, the Dedman College Center for Academic-Community Engagement (ACE) at Southern Methodist University has cultivated in SMU undergraduates an understanding of the complex social issues that challenge Dallas, the region, and the nation. The Center specializes in a form of socially engaged scholarship known as “action teaching and research,” which argues that a central mission of the University is to:
- Promote teaching and scholarship in the pursuit of effective social policy
- Cultivate through the classroom a sense of the "public good"
- Provide the community with technical skill
- Conduct research directed at problems that are important to the community and region
ACE Center teaching, research, and social action focus on the idea of supporting the local community through service. Through ACE, students, faculty, and staff can become involved working with various nonprofit agencies, serving different populations. Specific ways that one can become involved include living in the ACE House, taking a service learning course, doing an ACE Fellowship, being an ACE work-study employee, volunteerism, or partaking in an ACE sponsored Alternative Break. Feel free to peruse our pages and look for more information on all of these wonderful opportunities.
The mission of the SMU Dedman College Center for Academic-Community Engagement is to facilitate a learning/working environment in which SMU students can engage with service work and help a community agency achieve its goals. To that end we provide SMU students with opportunities to connect with community agencies through both paid employment and volunteer experiences.
About the Director
I am Dr. J. Michael Cruz, a sociologist and a Native Texan who enjoys running, coffee, and way too many pets. Being true to the call to serve, I have always engaged in some sort of community work and currently take care of cats at a local PetSmart for the of SPCA of Dallas, work with elders in an Elderly Services Program at Catholic Charities of Dallas, in addition to participating in the I Have A Dream foundation both as a member of their Board of Directors and as a tutor in their after school program. Most recently I was in New Orleans on an Alternative Break trip building homes with SMU students for the organization Phoenix of New Orleans.
I believe service facilitates both applied learning and meeting community needs that unfortunately, often go unmet.
While at SMU I have taught the following as service-learning courses:
- Sociology of Aging (with service learning placements at an assisted living facility)
- Introduction to Sociology (with service learning placements at elementary schools)
- Social Class and Democracy (with service learning placements at one of four nonprofit agencies)
More information about combining service with classroom teaching can be found in the Service Learning page.