Building Academic Civic Engagement at Carleton

Building Academic Civic Engagement (BACE): Collaborations between Carleton College and the City of Northfield

The “Building Academic Civic Engagement: Collaborations between Carleton College and the City of Northfield” (BACE) project will immensely aid Carleton’s efforts to institutionalize a shared understanding of the process, components, and goals of academic civic engagement and to more closely connect the College’s ACE efforts to needs and opportunities in the rapidly changing city of Northfield.

The BACE project is the direct successor to a previous project, which resulted in a set of recommendations by Nadinne Cruz, a well-known expert on civic engagement, for improving the College’s ACE activities. In addressing these recommendations, the College created and filled a new position, the Coordinator of Academic Civic Engagement, and charged its coordinator, Adrienne Falcón, with systematizing Carleton’s ACE efforts.

As director of the project, Falcón is working with an Advisory Committee, faculty, staff, students, and offcampus stakeholders. After planning and preparation during summer 2008, she will collaborate in Fall 2008 with a student researcher to assess students’ experiences with ACE and other forms of service learning. During the College’s December break and the following Winter 2009 term, Falcón will turn to faculty, using a workshop and a survey to evaluate their understanding of ACE and seek their guidance for better incorporating ACE into the curriculum. This work will use both the Western Region Campus Compact Faculty Survey of Engagement and the Furco’s Institutionalization Assessment Rubric to facilitate discussion and gauge faculty’s understanding of the state of civic engagement at Carleton. Finally, in Winter and Spring 2009, Falcón and the advisory committee will shift more fully outwards by using focus groups to assess civic-engagement needs and interests in the broader Northfield community. Student researchers will be key to this last, widest phase of the BACE project, which will culminate in meetings on- and off-campus to disseminate and begin to implement the findings of the BACE project.

By June 2009, Carleton intends to have completed the inventory of academic civic engagement on campus and in the community. At that point, the project director and Advisory Committee plan to have

  • disseminated findings through meetings with student, faculty, staff, and community stakeholders;
  • assembled the project’s findings into a comprehensive document to serve as a guide to future activities;
  • furthered the utility of the advisory committee as a body for shaping ACE activities, with an eye toward making the committee (or a successor) a permanent feature of academic civic engagement at Carleton;
  • developed a detailed, point-by-point response to Campus Compact’s “Indicators of Engagement” instrument, describing both current and future activities which address each indicator; and
  • begun to plan for the dissemination of the inventory (both as a research project and a set of findings) to other institutions of higher education that are seeking to develop their academic civic engagement. Carleton aims in particular to reach campuses interested in creating opportunities for students in rural areas, where there may fewer and less well-funded community organizations with which to partner.

Read a 2004 Carleton Voice article about Carleton and Academic Civic Engagement