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EPIC-N Communities of Practice

Sign up for EPIC-N’s Inaugural Community of Practice!

Following requests from programs, EPIC-N is excited to launch a new resource available to the EPIC-Network. Starting in Fall 2021, EPIC-N’s inaugural Communities of Practice (COPs) will begin.

The following sections describe the initiative, desired outcomes, topics, timeline, roles, and process for this year’s COPs. Please share widely and use the sign-up link below to indicate your interest in joining and/or co-leading a COPs.

The deadline for signing up has been extended. Please sign up by September 2, 2021. EPIC-N received many submissions already, but organizers want to make sure everyone who wants to participate is able to sign up.

What is a Community of Practice?

COPs provide members with an opportunity to learn from others, network with one another, and to develop and share their expertise broadly with the organization. In turn the organization can disseminate this shared knowledge and best practices to stakeholders. EPIC-N Communities of Practice are a way to build member engagement, as members draw connections between their activities and the mission of EPIC-N. By working in small teams around shared interests and investigations, COPs members interact regularly, discuss topics, and solve problems collectively and collaboratively. 

Why Host Communities of Practice?

In professional associations, members sometimes feel isolated and disconnected from the larger mission of the organization as they focus on their individual programs and goals. COPs increase collaboration between previously unconnected members, and offer opportunities for learning, professional development and problem solving for both individual members and the EPIC Network more broadly. Sharing knowledge and insights with members improves program effectiveness, and the co-creation of best practices strengthens our community of member programs.

EPIC-N Communities of Practice

Building on the shared interests of members, EPIC-N COPs will develop and share knowledge, tools, resources and best practices in support of the foundational tenets of EPIC-N. Ideally each COP will have three or four members and we strongly encourage each COP group to meet at least once with other COP groups to develop ideas for integration of topics whenever possible. Topics and investigation areas for COPs will change over time and we encourage members to suggest topics for future COP sessions. For our inaugural COP convening, the investigation areas are:

  • Improving Assessment and Evaluation of our Programs
  • Adapting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Integrating Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Best Practices
  • EPIC-N in Rural Spaces—the Challenges of Small Towns and Sparse Populations

EPIC-N Communities of Practice Deliverables

At the end of each COP convening period, each practice group will share its work (findings, literature review, toolkits, resources, best practices) with the EPIC-N community at large, and the EPIC-N Board. EPIC-N will actively promote the work of COPs across the member network and beyond. The deliverables of each group should include executable recommendations, toolkits and guides targeted to relevant stakeholders of EPIC-N:  universities; program managers; community partners; local government officials; etc.

Communities of Practice Topics for 2021 

EPIC-N Membership Value Proposition

Is the EPIC-Network providing a valuable experience to all its members? Using user experience models, journey and empathy maps, and other tools, develop a comprehensive understanding of: the ways members interact with EPIC-N tools and services, members’ motivational drivers; and the value members perceive from the EPIC Network. Offer suggestions about improving the member experience, better targeting and/or publicizing EPIC-N offerings, and new services EPIC-N might consider to bolster member affinity with EPIC-N.

Improving Assessment and Evaluation of our Programs

Member programs need to evaluate and demonstrate their program’s impact to stakeholders and decision-makers. What are the best tools and methods available for member programs supported by the EPIC Network to accomplish the assessment and evaluation processes in the short and medium term, and to demonstrate impact in the long term? 

Adapting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) offer helpful categorizations to consider the types of sustainability practices communities can adopt for a vibrant future. EPIC-N has adopted the goals as well as practices to better identify how projects from our network relate to each SDG. But how do EPIC programs introduce these concepts to their community partners and talk about their use to benchmark community goal-setting? How can EPIC programs leverage UN SDGs to strengthen their programs and demonstrate partnership in a global movement?

Integrating Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Best Practices

EPIC-N and many member programs formally adopted statements and strategies to integrate issues of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into all aspects of their work. How can we support member programs, community partners and the EPIC-Network in this work—from policies to projects?

EPIC-N in Rural Spaces—the Challenges of Small Towns and Sparse Populations

Many EPIC-N programs partner with rural communities and small towns that face specific challenges and opportunities. Can we identify the specific ways EPIC programs have been successful leveraging university capacities and resources to meet those challenges and embrace the opportunities presented by rural spaces? What can we learn from rural communities about adapting the EPIC model to better meet their needs and can university programs serving rural spaces demonstrate long-term sustainability?


July 30, 2021  – News Announcement and Mailing List

August 5, 2021 – Community of Practice Announced  

September 2, 2021 – Deadline for Application Submission (Apply Here)

September 13, 2021 – Deliberation, Selection, and Scheduling 

September 20, 2021 – First Week of Community of Practice Meetings – DELAYED, UPDATES COMING AS SOON AS POSSILBE!

November 4, 2021 – Midpoint Co-lead Check-in – Chat with EPIC Member Programming Subcommittee about progress, initial findings and expected deliverables

Before December holiday – Email outcomes to the EPIC-N Board and Member Programming Subcommittee for distribution

January 4, 2022Pecha Kucha-like presentation summarizing their COP’s experience, work, and deliverables during one of the EPIC-Network Calls (EPIC-USA, EPIC-Africa, EPIC-Asia) Will be recorded and shared with other regional networks.

Role of COP Participants

Each COP will have 3-4 members, perhaps more. Co-leader expectations are enumerated below. COP participants are essential to the success of the exploration of the topic, the creation of best practices, and the development of helpful tools. While the Co-leaders may guide the process, all participants are equal members in the COP and will share the work of the COP. Participating in a COP is an excellent way to build knowledge and experience around a specific topical area, especially one that is new to you and about which you have an interest in learning more.

Leadership (Co-leaders)

Each Community of Practice will be co-led by two EPIC-N members. Co-leadership enables different voices, points of view, areas of expertise, and skills to be included in the work of the Community of Practice. 

Co-leads work together, and with the Member Programming Subcommittee (as needed) to develop a timeline for their COP’s work. Co-leaders can expect to guide the work of the COP and to collaborate with all COP members to keep the project on track. They can also anticipate being co-equal members of the COP and sharing equally in the work.

Incentives for Co-leaders

To support co-leaders, EPIC-N is offering $500 stipends to each co-leader for this initial COP cohort. Stipends will come in two equal payments of $250. One payment will be made after the midpoint check-in and the final payment after the final deliverables are shared and the final presentation is completed. 

Selection of COP Participants and Co-leaders

Once all applications are submitted, the EPIC-N Member Programming Subcommittee will convene the COPs and notify participants. Participants will be selected based on a variety of factors including: interest in topic area and geographical representation. COP participants need not have specific experience in the topic area they wish to join.

Co-leaders will be selected based on: interest in topic area, reasoning for wanting to co-lead, and skills, resources, and experiences in the topic area, as well as geographical representation. Further, Co-leaders are expected to demonstrate specific pertinent experience and skills that will help the COP achieve its goals. Co-leaders will be notified by the subcommittee and invited to complete a brief administrative onboarding.

Interested in the EPIC-N COP but missed the sign up? Email your interest and contact information to to learn about other ways to engage with this and other EPIC-N programming.

Published: July 27, 2021

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

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