An Engagement of Hope

A Framework and Equity-Centered Theory of Action for Community Engagement


  • Patrick M. Green Loyola University Chicago
  • Daniel Bergen Marquette University
  • Cynthia Stewart Loyola University Chicago
  • Chris Nayve University of San Diego



community engagement, hope, faith-based, practitioner-scholar, critical inquiry


Building upon the proposed concept of an engagement of hope (Green, Stewart, Bergen, & Nayve, 2020) emerging from the exploration of faith-based approaches to community engagement, the authors delve into collaborative inquiry and critical reflection to construct a framework and equity-centered theory of action for community engagement. Drawing from the work of faith-based community organizations and institutions of higher education, and through the lens of a practitioner-scholar framework, the authors present a scholarly approach to collaborative inquiry and exploration into an engagement of hope, responding to the current context of higher education. The development of the engagement of hope conceptual framework emerged with core approaches to community engagement, responding to the current context and seeking to move the field of community engagement to address this context. The five themes that scaffold the conceptual framework are explicated, including challenging unjust structures, the common good, collaborative courage, community-centered, and individual goodness. The implications of this framework and theory of change are discussed as well as a call to re-center relationships in the community engagement field.

Author Biographies

Patrick M. Green, Loyola University Chicago

Patrick M. Green, EdD is the Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship (CELTS), and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Loyola University Chicago. He teaches experiential learning courses, including community-based learning, academic internships, global service-learning, and undergraduate research, as well as graduate courses in the Higher Education Program at Loyola. He is coeditor of Crossing Boundaries: Tension and Transformation in International Service-Learning (Stylus Publishing, 2014), Re-conceptualizing Faculty Development in Service-Learning/Community Engagement: Exploring Intersections, Frameworks, and Models of Practice (Stylus Publishing, 2018), Guest Editor of Metropolitan Universities Journal special issue on faith and community engagement (December, 2020), and Guest Editor of Experiential Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (ELTHE, fall 2021 and spring 2022). Dr. Green serves as a Scholar-in-Residence with the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSCLE), an Engaged Scholar with the National Society of Experiential Education (NSEE), and an Engaged Scholar with National Campus Compact. 

Daniel Bergen, Marquette University

Dr. Daniel J. Bergen is the inaugural, executive director of Community Engagement at Marquette University where he is responsible for the promotion, support, and advancement of community engagement in research, community-based teaching, and service. He has 16+ years of experience in higher education leadership and administration, previously serving as the interim assistant vice president for Student Affairs. He has published and presented locally and nationally on the topic of community engagement in higher education, and adjunct taught in the English Departments at Marquette University and Carthage College. He is a proud alum of Marquette University, native of Wisconsin and, in his free time, enjoys spending time in the Milwaukee community with his wife and two small children.

Cynthia Stewart, Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Cynthia P. Stewart is the Director, Experiential Learning at Loyola University Chicago, Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. She has over 20 years’ experience as an instructor and administrator bringing light to the importance of partnerships with urban higher education, faith based institutions, and community development organizations. Known as the “Urban Theologian” she has provided opportunities for faculty and students within higher education to move from the classroom to urban communities to learn from the stakeholders who are the advocates and co-educators for the disenfranchised within the Chicagoland area. She is a published author with focus areas on gentrification, resilience, and African American spirituality within the context of urban communities. In addition, through academic internships and career development, she has a passion for walking alongside undergraduate and graduate level students as they discern their vocation after college to “Go Forth and Set the World on Fire,” spark by spark.

Chris Nayve, University of San Diego

Chris Nayve is the Associate Vice of Community Engagement and Anchor Initiatives at the University of San Diego and has over 20 years of experience in the field of community engagement and community economic development.  Chris has partnered and served in a leadership capacity with the leading outreach and engagement associations and conferences including Ashoka U, California Campus Compact, Campus Compact, International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, Anchor Learning Network, and the Place-Based Justice Network.  Chris is committed to building the field of community-engaged scholarship and practice through the integration of social innovation, place-based justice, and anchor institution approaches.  He is passionate about deepening the breadth and depth of community engagement for faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community partners in order to address “critical social issues through the beneficially mutual exchange of knowledge and resources.”  Chris’ first public service experience was serving as a hospital corpsman with the United State Navy and when away from the office, he enjoys barbecuing for his family and friends.  


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