Student Civic Engagement on Display at Annual Symposium

CCLA Symposium

Photo by Khoa Le '24.

CCLA projects showcase how student community research and engagement make a difference

Last week, students showcased the wide variety of community-engagement projects they took on this year during the Center for Civic Learning & Action's (CCLA) Community Engagement Symposium.

Projects ranged from "Community Science: A Tool for Change" to "Reckoning With Carlisle’s Racial History Through Restorative Justice" and "The Odin Project: Programmers Teaching Programmers." Through one annual project carried out by Alpha Phi Omega, the memory of Lauren Lau ’19—who died unexpectedly in October 2016—is honored through an array of service projects throughout the community.

Each project allows Dickinsonians to put their educations into action while making a difference in the local community and beyond.

Rachel Pistol ’25 developed her project from an experience she had last semester, when she volunteered at the Employment Skills Center in Carlisle, a local organization that prepares people for the job market through literacy work and job training.

“I was working in the ESL class with immigrants who had been in America for a few years, and I noticed that there was a difference in the confidence level and the willingness to speak based on race and language—on having an accent,” says Pistol, who was inspired by the experience to conduct research into whether that was just an isolated incident or a trend. “I found that source language and accent are really big predictors for how much discrimination immigrants faces when they come to America.”

Civic engagement is at the core of Dickinson’s distinctive hands-on liberal-arts education, and the CCLA gives students countless ways to engage the world around them, both locally and internationally, with community engagement work like Pistol’s, service-learning courses, independent studies, community-based research and co-curricular civic-engagement projects.

This year, some projects were displayed during a virtual segment kicking off the event, while others were presented during a poster session in the HUB. And, as the presenters noted, each project can make a real difference.

“With research, we can figure out why this is happening,” Pistol says of her project working with immigrants, “and we then have an opportunity as a society to change our attitudes.”


Published May 2, 2022