About 75 people from 17 private liberal arts higher-education institutions and 11 nations met Oct. 23-25 at Kalamazoo College for a civic engagement conference. “Civic Engagement and the Liberal Arts: Local Practice, Global Impact,” an Institute of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, was hosted by the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE).
Faculty, staff, students and representatives of community-based organizations presented workshops, panel discussions and case studies to share innovative courses, programs and approaches that promote global citizenship and social justice in their communities and around the world.
Civic engagement conference participants connected and vowed to work across institutions and nations to address the world’s most pressing problems. Representatives came from the American University of Nigeria, American University of Beirut, Ashesi College University in Ghana, Foreman Christian College University in Pakistan, Lingnan University in Hong Kong, American University of Paris, American University of Greece, American University of Bulgaria, FLAME University in India, and ACODE in Kampala, Uganda; as well as seven liberal arts colleges in the in the U.S.
Civic engagement encompasses endeavors from voting to volunteering with community organizations to social justice activism and advocacy. It includes course-based and co-curricular experiences in which students work beside and learn from members of local communities to address complex social issues, building a foundation for active and informed engagement in democratic processes and social change.
The CCE, established in 2001, connects Kalamazoo College faculty and students with more than 50 community-based organizations, schools and the City of Kalamazoo through student-led programming and service-learning courses across the curriculum. It promotes food justice, educational and health equity, neurodiversity, adult literacy, juvenile justice, women’s and girls’ empowerment, neighborhood vitality and more.