The Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership at Marist College is committed to building on the College’s legacy of commitment and volunteerism. The Center offers its students and faculty opportunities to integrate teaching methods into schools and departments across campus. Although the Center is a relatively new and small office, we are devoted to making an effort to promote civic engagement and community based learning to students across campus. As part of this commitment, we have decided to launch a CCEL Facebook Campaign in order to further connect with students and get them involved with civic engagement in the community. This campaign will allow students access to information regarding what is going on in the Center and what we have to offer.
An engaging and service-oriented aspect of the Center that we have to offer is our Community Based Learning Courses. Community Based Learning (CBL) empowers students to connect their academic interests in the classroom to real world community experiences. CBL courses provide students with “the problem-solving tools and confidence needed to generate positive change in their communities”(Marist College). Since Fall 2015, there have been more than 20 unique CBL courses offered in a variety of disciplines and academic schools. This Spring 2017 semester, 11 courses are being offered that offer CBL, one of those courses being HONR 365: Ethics of Food, taught by Dr. Campisi, associate professor of philosophy. This course, offered as a philosophy/ethics course, covers major ethical theories regarding the production of food. In this course, students analyze certain issues pertaining to how we consume food such as how ethical it is to eat non-human animals and our obligation to feed those who are hungry. Because of CBL, students are able to apply the skills taught in the classroom in the community.
Throughout the semester, Dr. Campisi incorporates community based learning into the class by requiring his students to volunteer. Students must do volunteer hours at organizations that have a food related focus. Some of these organizations include Poughkeepsie Farm Project and Catskill Farm Sanctuary. These volunteer opportunities provide students with real community interaction. It gives them a different perspective on what it really means to be involved. These immersive experiences allow students to apply their classroom discussion to hands on work. Instead of just talking about the issues, they are actually working on the issues. Dr. Campisi believes in the philosophy of hands on learning; “Reading is a way we learn, but there is a certain limit on that.” Community engagement offers students opportunities they might never have had.
Linking community based learning with classes at Marist is important to the development and education of a Marist student. These classes allow professors to teach beyond the textbook. Dr. Campisi believes that these courses “make connection to the materials more vivid.” It helps him teach what he wants to teach better. In his class, it makes the lesson on farm workers’ rights more vivid and real; students learn what is really involved in that kind of work. It makes a bigger impact on students to see what they really go through and how tough it is as opposed to just reading it from a textbook. Through his CBL course, Dr. Campisi wants his students to understand that the simplest decisions, such as the choice between a burger and a salad, can have ethical implications. He also wants to instill a better understanding on what is involved in the production of our food and the systems involved. Ultimately, he wants his students to walk away with a sense of what they can do to make the food system better and make an impact on the world.
I believe that community based learning is an integral part to a Marist education. Through the Center for Civic Engagement, I hope that more students can become aware of the CBL courses offered at Marist in a variety of disciplines. It is important for students to be aware of these courses and the opportunities they offer to better foster a more engaging education.
For this topic, I interviewed Dr. Campisi about his Ethics of Food course. I asked him a series of questions pertaining to his course and his opinion on Community Based Learning. Since I have taken CBL courses, I have experience and knowledge on the CBL courses offered through the Center for Civic Engagement. I learned more about the Ethics of Food course and the amount of volunteer work that is put into it. Previously, I only had a student perspective of CBL courses, but after interviewing Dr. Campisi, I see how much enjoyment professors get out of teaching these courses. Community based learning courses are very interesting and engaging courses. I hope that through the CCEL FaceBook Campaign and the Center for Civic Engagement, more students become aware of these opportunities.
“Marist.” About Community Based Learning: Marist College. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2017. <https://www.marist.edu/liberalarts/civic-engagement/aboutcbl.html>