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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

ACT and ACE launch new civic engagement program

<t President Steven Poskanzer called the new Center for Community and Civic Engagement last Friday at its official launching.

The attendees at the opening were of various types; some were directly associated with the program, while others stopped by out of interest in possible future involvement. Yet all enthusiastically spoke of the program’s potential and promising future.

The new program combines the efforts of two of Carleton’s community-based student organizations – Acting in the Community Together and Academic Civic Engagement – while adding the third element of Public Scholarship.

The ACT Center, directed by Laura Riehle-Merrill, has a long history at Carleton. For more than 25 years, it has promoted and supported community service programs.

ACE, directed by Adrienne Falcón, is relatively new, having started only about four years ago. It focuses on helping students apply their schoolwork to real-world experiences that benefit Northfield and neighboring communities.

Public Scholarship, the third strand of CCCE, is a brand new program coordinated by Professor of Religion Michael McNally ’85. It aims to raise the visibility of scholarship by Carleton’s faculty, since at Carleton, much of the academia takes place inside the classrooms.

With the help of Carleton’s faculty, CCCE will take the seemingly impractical scholarship and integrate it directly. Poskanzer believes that this will shape both Carls and faculty into more enriched and “wiser volunteers.”

“The Center promises to integrate community engagement with the work of teaching, learning and scholarship in a substantive Carleton way,” Poskanzer explains on the CCCE website. “The cross-pollination of community and civic engagement with the life of the mind has long typified Carleton’s ethos.”

The three combined programs embrace interconnected initiatives and goals, intertwining to create something of a super-power organization. This integration, however, does not suggest that the individual programs will lose their distinctive power or luster. Each will continue with its own efforts.

“The three programs are intellectually, administratively and, where appropriate, programmatically integrated within the Center, but each retains its distinctive work and its own director,” McNally said on the CCCE website.

Established last fall, the Center has already begun its work. In November, CCCE organized a Youth Empowerment Workshop where various Carleton and local high-school students gathered to learn about community-organizing techniques and leadership concepts. In the end, the participants formulated working groups to take direct action on certain topics discussed.

Next month, CCCE will host a brief progress report, reflecting on past programs and contemplating future developments for civic engagement at Carleton.

These successful events, coupled with the highly-attended launching last Friday, indicate a promising future for CCCE. Through the integration and interweaving of its three different strands, CCCE has the potential to set off synergies and foster change in Carleton, Northfield and the greater community.
As Poskanzer said, sounds like a “win, win, win.”


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