Barnard's Dean Dorothy
Denburg Talks About the
Civic Engagement Program
EU: What was the genesis of the Civic Engagement Program (NYCCEP) program at Barnard?
Dean Denburg: The idea was something I was interested in from the first minute I became Dean, 11 years ago. Director of Career Development, Jane Celwyn, had been talking for years about more effectively linking internships with the curriculum. We had only one course at the time that provided a theoretical link to an internship, “Mass Media and American Democracy.”
A few years ago I attended a three-day meeting at Mt. Holyoke College with Kathryn Jay, who at the time was an American History/American Studies professor at Barnard. The Mellon Foundation sponsored the meeting, which dealt with how liberal arts colleges produce more effective citizens. We both learned a lot and came back more committed than ever to the idea. She developed the first course for the program.
EU: Why do you think the program is a good idea?
Dean Denburg: Too often our students do wonderful critical thinking in their classes, in their writing and in their discussions, and then they go off-campus and engage in important internships in different settings in which they may be following their passions, their political agenda. These can be fragmented experiences for them. Now they can be purposeful in integrating their experiences.
EU: What are your goals for the program?
Dean Denburg: I would like to see more theorizing courses linked with internship options, and more out of classroom learning opportunities in other areas of the curriculum. My goal is to see the program spread among departments so more students can take advantage of it, enabling them to have a broader range of theorizing and actualization experiences.
EU: Are programs like Barnard's Civic Engagement Program a trend on college campuses?
Dean Denburg: Absolutely. Many schools participated in the Mt. Holyoke conference. Many schools are talking about how they can integrate what students are learning and what they are doing in community service and activism.#