Off-Campus Academic Civic Engagement
ACT and OCS Resource Guide
The Carleton "bubble," an invisible and artificial boundary between campus and the larger community, can sometimes make you feel estranged from the world at large. Through globalization, local and world communities are growing, and interacting in many different ways that affect and concern all of us. Carleton prepares you to meet real world challenges in various ways, through classes, work-study, extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, off-campus studies, and interacting with friends and classmates. You may find yourself compartmentalizing these experiences, moving from one to another without reflecting or acting upon the themes and skills that connect them. But it's important to understand the range of your Carleton activities as part of a continuum of personal and academic growth. This brochure highlights opportunities that can broaden and deepen your education by connecting local and global experiences through community service and off-campus study. We hope you'll learn to re-examine your busy life--you may discover new connections!
INTERCULTURAL AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
Carleton offers different ways to pursue intercultural, experiential, and/or service learning before, during, and after your off-campus study. Intercultural learning enables you to experience the larger world, encounter cultural differences, and become proactive when faced with challenges. Experiential learning reinforces and challenges your traditional classroom education. Service learning--the intersection of academic learning and community service--connects abstract concepts with concrete experience. These experiences allow you to engage new cultures directly, whether this occurs through tutoring a Guatemalan woman who hopes to get her GED, or going to Africa to learn Swahili and volunteer for an NGO.
There are many ways you can prepare for your eventual off-campus experience right here in Northfield: Community Service A great way to prepare for living in a different culture or community is to volunteer in your own community first. Acting in the Community Together (ACT) offers many volunteer opportunities with minority populations in Northfield and surrounding communities (Faribault, Twin Cities, etc.) and provides other ways to get out of the Carleton “bubble.” For example, one student taught local third-graders about the environment before studying ecology on an SIT program in Bolivia. Just one hour a week of community service will greatly enhance your off-campus experience.
Both for-credit (involving a faculty member and the Career Center) and non-credit internships can help you gain confidence and experience before studying off campus. For example, two interns recently completed a six-credit internship organizing students to write grant proposals for The Student Pledge Against Gun Violence. Check out the Career Center for more examples and information.
- Academic Civic Engagement in a Carleton Course
In designated courses, student community service is integral and academic credit is earned for the learning derived from the service. Knowledge from the discipline informs your service experience and service recipients are invited to take part in your evaluation. Many departments offer service-learning courses. For example, an American studies class studying the Vietnam war interviewed elderly Northfield residents to gain a broader view of how veterans were personally affected by the conflict.
- Academic Civic Engagement Added Credit Option
You can also contract to do a significant amount of community service related to required course work to receive additional credit for the course. Either you or a professor may initiate these service components.
- Independent Study
Working closely with a faculty adviser, you can engage in meaningful service to the community that informs and strengthens your independent study. For example, one media studies student helped the Northfield Community Action Center make a video for newcomers to Northfield, addressing such topics as how to get a driver’s license, register their children for kindergarten, etc.
Many off-campus programs have independent study, service-learning, or community service components to help you become actively engaged in the local community. Most programs have a wealth of local connections that can help you develop your intercultural skills in another cultural setting. Whether you go on a Carleton seminar, directly enroll in a foreign university, or go on a Carleton-affiliated program, the off-campus studies office (OCS) is the place to start for exploring the many options available.
Many students comment that they don’t realize how much they have changed until they’re back on campus and reflecting on their experience. You may feel disoriented or frustrated. Your definition of culture may have expanded. Resist the urge to compartmentalize your off-campus experience! While your memories are fresh, you can continue developing your language and intercultural skills in and around the Northfield community. Continue your past service experience, take a new service-learning course related to your off-campus study, become more involved with international students at Carleton, or create a comps project out of your local and global experiences with different cultures. Take this opportunity to revise your résumé, visit the Career Center, and start thinking about how your off-campus experience might fit into your post-Carleton life.