Celebrating Anniversary, Faculty Scholars: Meghan Gough

In celebration of its 10th anniversary in 2016, a series of faculty spotlights were written for the Virginia Commonwealth University Division of Community Engagement (DCE). In collaboration with VCU’s University Relations office, the feature stories were used to convey a key message that the DCE can help elevate faculty members’ teaching and scholarship by providing the training, funding and connections to engage with the greater community.

The features became part of the university’s overall Make it Real campaign and were used on the DCE’s anniversary splash page, in print and in the division’s e-newsletter. 

View the series on VCU’s website

Nontraditional partners empower citizens to improve community

Meghan Gough’s teaching and research focuses on how collaborative partnerships can affect local sustainability goals. In 2013, with the help of students in her Sustainable Community Development course, she worked with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond’s Sustainability Office and GroundworkRVA to launch Beautiful RVA, a coalition of public and private agencies, organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the quality of life in Richmond through landscape beautification and increased greenspaces.

Aided by a community engagement grant, the partnership aims to positively transform the urban landscape, build community pride, deter crime and promote social cohesion in communities.

“The key is empowering community members so they have the power to impact how their city develops and work to improve community conditions. A top-down approach will not work; people need to be part of a solution in order to take ownership of long-term community development approaches. For Beautiful RVA, the idea is that beauty shouldn’t be a luxury; it’s about making [spaces] attractive and accessible to diverse community needs and interests.”

All this work not only benefits community partners and students. Her research will also reach a wider audience through “Public Gardens and Community Revitalization: Partnerships for Social Change,” a book that will be published by Cornell University Press in 2017 that looks at different cities and how creative partnerships realize common community goals.

Photo credit: Virginia Commonwealth University