The concept of “the beloved community” percolates through modern American culture—an idea that integrates ideals and action. The term is associated with the philosopher Josiah Royce in his early 20th century exploration of the relationship of individuals to faith-based communities, but gained wider currency through the work of Reverend Martin Luther King, who often used the term to describe his ideal society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love of one’s fellow human beings.
Secular intellectuals, like Lewis Mumford, also applied the idea of the “beloved community” to like-minded individuals who worked together for economic, social, and democratic reforms. For all of these thinkers, the “beloved community” is one that transforms its members and restructures institutions through the collective actions of individuals bound together by common aims, values, and ideals.
It is this secular idea of the “beloved community” that epitomizes for me the thousands of dedicated and generous educators who participate in SENCER, bound together by their aspirations for their students and their commitment to improve STEM learning and civic capacity. For myself, participation in this community, and the bonds of trust, affection, and support I have forged with its members for the last 19 years, has sustained my optimism, my energy, and my idealism about the transformative power of both higher education and civic engagement.
For 13 of those 19 years, no one has embodied the ideals and values of SENCER’s beloved community better than Danielle Kraus Tarka. Her grace, equanimity, and deep commitment to the work, as well as her apparently boundless administrative acumen, has allowed the project to thrive and grow through a host of changes and challenges. Her intellectual contributions to SENCER and the National Center’s programs and initiatives, as well as to our operational infrastructure, are too numerous to mention.
It is with both sadness for our loss, and great pride in her accomplishments, that I congratulate Danielle and her husband Matt on their move to Pennsylvania and the exciting opportunities they will have there. At the same time, I am happy to announce Danielle’s appointment as an NCSCE Sr. Fellow. Her institutional memory as the key manager of operations for over a decade, her deep knowledge of our community and its programs, and her unwavering commitment to our work will be indispensable as we continue to engage faculty, administrators, and their institutions in our growing “community of transformation” in STEM. On behalf of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, I want to thank you, Danielle, for all you have given to the SENCER mission, and we look forward to working with you in your new role in the project.