New Civic Action Plan Aims to Create a Civically-Engaged Campus Community

Wesleyan students frequently volunteer at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.

Wesleyan students frequently volunteer at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.

This spring, Wesleyan joined Campus Compact, a coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide, to advance the public purpose of Wesleyan by deepening its ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.

Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, volunteered to teach a Girls in Science Camp, hosted by Wesleyan's Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Johnson led the campers on a bug hunt through Wesleyan’s West College Courtyard garden.

Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, volunteered to teach a Girls in Science Camp, hosted by Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Johnson led the campers on a bug hunt through Wesleyan’s West College Courtyard garden.

In March, President Michael Roth signed onto to Campus Compact’s Civic Action Plan. Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, and other members of the Civic Action Plan steering committee, are leading conversations on campus and in the community to create an actionable plan to realize Wesleyan’s goals. Lechowicz publishes posts about the process on Wesleyan’s ENGAGE blog.

“We want to hear what it means to be civically engaged,” Lechowicz said. “How do we do it as an institution and how can we better support or encourage students, staff and faculty to contribute to the greater good? What are the barriers and challenges? Through casual conversations, we seek input on better ways to share information about civic engagement, policies or practices that we may adopt to help encourage or acknowledge contributions, and to learn what may already be happening around campus.”

After seeking input, the steering committee will draft a plan this summer, and put plans into action next fall. The committee welcomes the campus community to submit ideas and feedback through this online form.
Anyone seeking volunteer opportunities can contact Wesleyan’s Office for Community Service.

Wesleyan’s Civic Action Pledge reads as follows:

To advance the public purposes of higher education, we affirm the following statements, which characterize our current commitments and name the ideals toward which we will work with renewed dedication, focus, and vigor.

We empower our students, faculty, staff, and community partners to co-create mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.

We prepare our students for lives of engaged citizenship, with the motivation and capacity to deliberate, act, and lead in pursuit of the public good.

We embrace our responsibilities as place based institutions, contributing to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically.

We harness the capacity of our institutions—through research, teaching, partnerships, and institutional practice—to challenge the prevailing social and economic inequalities that threaten our democratic future.

We foster an environment that consistently affirms the centrality of the public purposes of higher education by setting high expectations for members.