Bard envisions the liberal arts institution as the hub of a network, rather than a single, self-contained campus. Numerous institutes for special study are available on and off campus, connecting Bard students to the greater community.
The Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College embodies the fundamental belief that education and civil society are inextricably linked. In an age of information overload, it is more important than ever that citizens be educated and trained to think critically and be actively engaged with issues affecting public life.
Bard undergraduates are actively engaged in a variety of projects and volunteer efforts on campus and off, during the academic year and during their intersession and summer breaks. The Trustee Leader Scholar Program oversees several dozen student-led projects each semester; examples of these initiatives can be found immediately below and throughout this chapter. The College also works with affiliated institutes, local and international partners, alumni/ae, and others to provide internship opportunities.
Trustee Leader Scholar (TLS) Program In keeping with Bard’s ethos of encouraging active involvement at all levels of campus life, TLS students design and implement civic engagement projects based on their own compelling interests. At any given time, the program has between 40 and 45 formal TLS scholars, but for every scholar leading a project, another 10 students participate. Student leaders receive stipends in exchange for their participation in the program, and most projects run for multiple years. Examples of current TLS projects include harvesting food for the families of incarcerated men, building a library and providing English lessons for children in a Nicaraguan village, running ESL programs for migrant laborers and their families in the Hudson Valley, offering play and educational support for severely developmentally delayed youth, and building a youth center in the West Bank. A number of TLS projects have become permanent, College-sponsored initiatives, including the Bard Prison Initiative; La Voz, a Spanish-language magazine widely circulated in the Mid-Hudson Valley; Bard Early College in New Orleans; and the Bard College Farm. In 2015 the Sounds of Social Change won a Davis Projects for Peace prize to teach and coach classical music in the Siloe slums of Cali, Colombia. The Siloe project continues into its third year in 2017.
Every Bard student is eligible to apply for TLS status. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and acceptance is based primarily on the student’s willingness and capacity to direct a large-scale project. TLS students meet one-on-one with the program director and assistant; take part in skill-building workshops; and prepare formal project proposals, budgets, and evaluations. They are offered hands-on opportunities to acquire skills in grant writing, lesson planning, and group facilitation. TLS workshops also deal with public speaking, effective interpersonal communication, and awareness building around issues of power, authority, and difference. All TLS projects draw on the participation and support of volunteers from the student body and greater Bard community. For more information and a list of recent projects, visit the TLS website at bard.edu/tls.
Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences (ELAS) courses are designed to link academic work and critical thinking skills from the classroom with civic and other forms of engagement activities that contextualize course materials and enhance learning. A significant portion of the learning takes place outside of the classroom: students learn through involvement with different organizations and programs in surrounding communities or the national and international venues in which Bard is involved. ELAS courses emphasize reflective learning and challenge students to develop creative approaches to social, cultural, and scientific issues. Community engagement is not based on “service” but on respect and reciprocity. Such an emphasis encourages open exchanges, collaboration, and the potential to produce new forms of knowledge. Learn more at bard.edu/cce/programs/liberalarts.
Bard Launch This 2015 initiative is a crowdfunding platform that supports student-led community-based and academically oriented projects. To learn more, go to launch.bard.edu.
Bard Leads is a student-run leadership conference that explores the many ways leadership is defined and practiced at Bard. The conference, held before the start of the fall semester, helps participants—a mix of first-year and returning students—understand the range of leadership opportunities at Bard, both on campus and off. Through workshops, talks, and open dialogue “conver-sessions,” students learn how to get involved in the Bard community.
Bard-sponsored Internships Bard offers a number of internship programs for students. On campus, internships are arranged through several offices, including the Center for Civic Engagement, Career Development Office, Human Rights Project, and Environmental and Urban Studies Program, and through election.bard.edu. Bard also sponsors off-campus programs, in the United States and overseas, that feature internship opportunities. These include the Bard Global and International Affairs (BGIA) Program in New York City and Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy, a graduate program based on Bard’s main campus, also helps students obtain appropriate internships.
A sampling of organizations that have sponsored Bard internships includes: Amnesty International, Asia Society, Broadmoor Improvement Association, Bronx Defenders, CNN, Council on Foreign Relations, Dutchess County Board of Elections, El Museo del Barrio, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Global Justice Center, Hudson River Heritage, Human Rights Watch, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Inter-national Center for Transitional Justice, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Namibia Water Corporation, The Nation, Public Interest Law Initiative, Roubini Global Economics, Saathi Kathmandu, Save the Children, the White House, and World Policy Institute.
Community Action Awards These awards provide funding for students to engage with communities locally, nationally, and internationally through internships that address issues affecting people around the world. CCE works with students to facilitate internship opportunities with schools, media and public policy organizations, politicians, libraries, NGOs, educational institutions, and government agencies. CCE sponsored more than 60 Community Action Awards in 2016.