Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Overview

FALL 2020 UPDATE

The OCEL is offering VIRTUAL community-engaged learning opportunities in the Fall semester. Please take a look at http://pages.vassar.edu/officeofcommunityengagedlearning/ for an update of available opportunities. You can still register for CEL for the Fall semester.

Please note: we will be working remotely and can be reached via email at ocel@vassar.edu

Be well! Stay safe!

 

MISSION OF THE OCEL

The Office of Community-Engaged Learning builds reciprocal relationships with community partners to provide students with experiential opportunities mentored by faculty that help them integrate and deepen classroom learning with real life experience. The goal is to empower our students to become engaged citizens while supporting the work of our partners and investing in the future of our community.

 

HISTORY

The Office of Community-Engaged Learning was previously known as the “Field Work” office. Established in 1949, the program was developed in cooperation with “civic, welfare, fraternal and church groups” and gave students the opportunity to learn while contributing to the community. In its early years the office provided students with field experiences allowing them to do applied work with community organizations. From the 1990s to 2017, the office provided students with experiential opportunities that allowed them to examine the way in which the theories and practical experiences of a particular discipline interact. In 2017, the Field Work office was reborn as the “Office of Community-Engaged Learning” (OCEL). The OCEL seeks to create mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations that give students the opportunity to enhance classroom learning, gain experience, and become engaged citizens while supporting the work of partners and investing in the future of the local community. We believe that in engaging with real world experiences and across difference, students will develop dispositional skills like empathy, respect, critical thinking and become adapatable and agile thinkers.  

WHY CEL?

CEL allows students to:

- enhance classroom learning

- develop dispositional skills 

- foster engaged citizenship

- suupport capacity building for critical social issues

- cultivate reciprocity with our community

- explore potential professional interests 

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Signing up is easy.  A typical community-engaged learning opportunity begins with a conversation between a student and the Director of Community-Engaged Learning, Dr. Lisa Kaul to discuss the student's interests and goals and which organizations might be a good fit. The student then has an interview with their prefered organization, and once they are offered a position, arrange a faculty sponsor, to oversee the academic assignments.  Students typically ask a professor whom they have taken a class with or whose academic interests are related to the field of the experiential work. The student and the faculty sponsor will meet to agree upon what academic work the student will complete in conjunction with the CEL opportunity.

Students can also arrange their own opportunities, often with the help of the Career Development Office (CDO) which maintains an extensive database of internship opportunities through Handshake.  These take place at a wide range of agencies and businesses, in New York City and elsewhere. 

The summer offers an additional opportunity for experiential learning activities such as internships, research, and volunteer experiences. Students wanting to arrange academic credit for a summer internship should check the requirements on our Summer page.