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.
Election@bard Election@bard represents the College’s efforts to inform students and the greater Bard community about local and national elections, and to help voters register, obtain absentee ballots, determine their correct polling sites, and become familiar with how to mark ballots and use ballot-scanning machines. The website provides links and information about current elected officials; candidates for national, state, and local office; advocacy sites; a calendar of election-related events; and information on selected voter issues. Bard students and staff have also sponsored on-campus “Meet the Candidates” sessions. For details, see election.bard.edu. Election@bard is also affiliated with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a voting rights advocacy organization that works with campus-based Vote Everywhere ambassadors throughout the nation.
Red Hook Together This initiative of Bard College and the town and village of Red Hook promotes greater community cooperation. Spearheaded by Dean of Civic Engagement Erin Cannan, the Red Hook Together coalition has been involved in such activities as career expos and sustainability efforts, including the 10 Percent Challenge (see "Innovations in Science and Sustainability"). The coalition also includes the Red Hook Central School District and Chamber of Commerce.
Student-led Projects in the Hudson Valley Trustee Leader Scholar projects and other undergraduate clubs and initiatives provide a variety of opportunities for students to engage with local issues and address local needs. Bard students have partnered with the Red Hook Central School District to create a debate program; counseled abused women at the Grace Smith House; served as advocates for better housing and work conditions for migrant laborers; mentored youth in Hudson, New York, through a basketball clinic and after-school program; and worked with the Bard Microbusiness Support Initiative to help would-be entrepreneurs with little or no access to credit.