Prof. Mark Anthony D. Abenir, DSD, faculty member of the Department of Sociology and researcher of the Research Center for Social Sciences and Education, along with Simbahayan Community Development Office program development officers Abegail Martha S. Abelardo and Veronica Michelle L. Moreno, presented their research paper entitled “Empowering Higher Education  Extension Workers for Community Engagement: The Case of a Certificate Course offered by the University of Santo Tomas.” The paper was presented during the October 16-18, 2019 3rd Colleges and Universities Public Service Conference (CUPSCon 3), at the University of the Philippines Visayas – Molo, Iloilo.

The paper aimed to address the reality that while service is one of the important functions of higher education institutions (HEI), many HEI personnel lack training in the area. In the Philippine context, there remains to be a dearth of literature, along with the lack of opportunities for training.

To address the gap, the University of Santo Tomas, through the Simbahayan Community Development Office and the Center for Continuing Professional Education and Development, delivered the first and only certification program in the Philippines funded by the Commission on Higher Education and designed for extension workers in HEIs. The course sought to “achieve a high level of competency in integrating community engagement and organizing into their teaching, research, and/or public service endeavors.”

The paper used mixed methods to describe the content and conduct of the course, present the satisfaction evaluation results, and cull participants’ learning and insights. The paper helped document efforts made by HEIs to mainstream community engagement into the fabric of academic life.

Abenir is the immediate past Director of the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office. He belongs to the Community Studies research interest group of RCSSEd.