Civic Engagement

Scholars Tyler Hall and Grace Schulz learn about tree planting from community partner, Boston Natural Areas Network.

University Scholars are committed to the common good and their communities.

To promote discussion of civic engagement in the context of pressing societal issues, the University Scholars and the Civic Engagement Program brought four distinguished outside speakers to campus as part of the 2015 Scholars Seminar on Leadership, Research, and Innovation. Students heard from transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, immigration activist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas, and bestselling author and climate-change expert Naomi Klein.

Each year, University Scholars are expected to dedicate 100 hours to civic engagement activity. This experience is designed to help Scholars understand how they can best put their talents to use. We offer two terrific opportunities through which Scholars can fulfill their service obligations: direct service and participation in a Community-based Research Project. Since Scholars come to us with wonderful community connections and service projects underway, many Scholars choose to do direct service with community partners through our Civic Engagement Program. In this program, Scholars are working with youth at the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club, helping low-income Boston residents access health services, and leading civics programs through Generation Citizen, to name but a few of the opportunities available to Scholars.

For those interested in taking on new service challenges, we also offer Scholars the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams on self-directed community-based research projects that are carried out over the course of the year. Scholars Service Research Projects offer Scholars the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams on self-directed, yearlong research projects that are carried out in close collaboration with a community partner. In 2015-16, Scholars completed fourteen Service Research Projects. These, alongside previous years' projects, have dealt with some of Boston's most pressing community challenges: how to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food; how can we ensure the health and vitality of our waterways; how can we mitigate the worst effects of air pollution in some of our densest neighborhoods; and how can we administer justice in such a way that it does not leave our local communities devastated. Each project consists of archival research, interviews, fieldwork, consultation with faculty experts, skill building, data interpretation, and the presentation of results to community partners and the University community.