» COLLABORATE Initiative

What is the value of higher education?

Critics of traditional higher education refer to reports, both academic and in the popular press, that indicate a disturbing disconnect between academic learning and real-world significance. They are demanding more accountability and justifiable returns on the time and money spent on college education. Supporters of higher education counter that colleges and universities serve many functions that are not easily quantifiable. They emphasize the importance of developing critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and responsible citizens.

COLLABORATE provides much needed space to jointly engage in purposeful and practical inquiries on these social issues and processes by:

  • making meaningful connections between academic approaches and real-world issues;
  • facilitating strategic collaborations among students, faculty, educational institutions, businesses, and community-based organizations; and
  • re-conceptualizing and enacting updated meanings of learning in higher education.

In doing so, we are reframing learning as a collaborative process.

View the COLLABORATE Initiative white paper

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Michelle Samura, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Attallah College

Dr. Samura primarily teaches in the undergraduate Integrated Educational Studies (IES) Program and challenges students to think boldly and broadly about what it means to be an “educator” in today’s society. As a scholar, Dr. Samura works at the intersection of space, race, and education. She is particularly interested in how a spatial approach offers an effective lens and language to examine and talk about issues such as “belonging,” “community,” and social identities. 

Paul Kang, Ph.D.
Director of Accreditation and Assessment, Office of the Provost

Dr. Kang’s research interests include teamwork, assessment, workplace conflict, research methods, and engaged learning. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on conflict, organizational processes, and research methods. Dr. Kang earned his doctorate in organizational communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara.


COLLABORATE currently has three flagship projects, each of which reimagines what learning in, through, and beyond higher education can look like. Each project makes meaningful connections between academic approaches and real world issues and facilitates strategic collaborations among students, faculty, educational institutions, businesses, and community-based organizations.

Please see below for brief project descriptions. We invite you to contact project leads if you are interested in possible collaborations and/or supporting the project.

Architecture of Belonging
Project Lead: Dr. Michelle Samura
Drawing upon theories and methods from critical geography, visual sociology, architecture, and design, the Architecture of Belonging project involves a multi-site case study that examines the role of space in the development of belonging and community on in higher education settings. This work has a wide range of theoretical and practical implications, such as offering an unconventional, student-informed approach to examine and address campus climate issues in higher education as well as K-12 settings; re-conceptualizing campus and classroom designs; and developing more informed and mutually beneficial university-school-community partnerships.

Engaged Learning Project
Project Lead: Dr. Michelle Samura
The Engaged Learning Project aims to re-conceptualize meanings of higher education by helping students make meaningful connections among college education, their lives, and society. This is accomplished through undergraduate students actively engaging in sustained student-led and student-centered internship research projects that contribute to students’ personal, academic, professional, and civic development. The primary goals are to: strengthen community and institutional collaboration; increase relevant linkages between undergraduate coursework and career; develop empirical evidence that can transform the way universities measure and catalyze learning; and, generate more engaged, prepared, and proactive professionals and citizens.

Working Through Conflict
Project Lead: Dr. Paul Kang
The purpose of Working Through Conflict is to provide fundamental knowledge about workplace conflict and effective conflict management strategies to organizations. This is accomplished through research in a variety work place settings and interactive workshops offered to organizations and businesses. Through the workshops, organizational members acquire a transformed perspective on how to approach, process, and work through conflict. Collaborate Initiative also offers supplementary resources and tailored consulting services for additional organizational needs.

Stay tuned for more project updates.


For information about how to support or partner with COLLABORATE, please contact:

Dr. Michelle Samura
(714) 744-7942 

For general inquiries about COLLABORATE, please contact:

Dr. Paul Kang
(714) 516-5001

Mailing address

Attallah College of Educational Studies
Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866

Contact Us

For questions, contact:
Dr. Michelle Samura
(714) 744-7942

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