by Tony Moore
Community engagement has long been an abiding facet of the Dickinson experience, with the Center for Civic Learning & Action (CCLA) having a diverse portfolio of programs that undertake dozens of projects each year. To oversee a large swath of CCLA’s activities, the college recently brought in a new director of community engagement—Laura Megivern, who comes to campus from the University of Vermont.
“Seeing how faculty, staff, community and students treated each other when I visited—with respect, authenticity and a bit of fun—was a major selling point!” says Megivern, who started her new post Oct. 1. “It was also Dickinson’s strong liberal-arts tradition and history and its deep partnership in the Carlisle community. In some places, it feels like the college is 'next to' the community—but Dickinson really feels in and of the community.”
Megivern will be engaging that community and beyond as she oversees CCLA's Montgomery Service Leaders program, CommServ, service trips and new community engagement initiatives the center will launch in the future. And she sees the Dickinson/Carlisle collaborative landscape as a jumping-off point for greater understanding of the wider world.
“Community engagement helps us explore and understand what it means to be a member of a community, what our responsibilities are, what our place in the world is,” says Megivern, whose interests include the intersections of politics and group conflict in community engagement work in higher education, diversity and social justice education through a constructivist lens and creating quality alternative breaks. “And a liberal-arts education is essential to helping decipher complex community challenges and assets as well as determine our best personal and communal courses of action.”
Published October 16, 2019