The Office of Community-Engaged Learning (OCEL)
The Office of Community-Engaged Learning (OCEL) aims to build long-term, asset-based partnerships with community organizations based in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, and the greater Hudson Valley. The OCEL connects students, community partners, and faculty community-identified projects to deepen classroom learning, build capacity at community organizations, and empower students to become active change agents in their communities.
The OCEL’s pedagogical workshops and trainings are grounded in critical community-engaged learning, which centers self-awareness and critical thinking, critical analysis skills of the root causes of social issues, and the supporting the development of students’ knowledge, tools, and agency to create a more equitable and just world.
OCEL Core Programs
Community-Engaged Learning (CEL)
CEL (#290) is a community-based and experiential educational opportunity aimed to enhance learning, through community engagement. In the CEL experience, students learn more about social issues, work alongside community partners, combine their off-campus learning with guided reflection under the mentorship of a faculty sponsor, and participate in critical reflection workshops with the OCEL. Students are eligible to receive either 0.5 unit (40 hours of community-based work and 30 hours of academic work) or 1.0 unit of academic credit (80 hours of community-based work and 60 hours of academic work) in the department of their faculty sponsor. The OCEL upholds the College’s commitment to providing an accessible and inclusive learning environment. Please contact the office if you need any accommodations.
The Community-Engaged Intensives in the Humanities (CEIH) grant, funded by the Mellon Foundation, aims to foster and support the development of intensives that cultivate long-lasting, equitable collaborations between our campus and communities of the city of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, and the Hudson Valley. Community-Engaged Intensives in the Humanities are envisioned as innovative, collaborative learning opportunities that complement more traditional courses by extending the humanities beyond the classroom into faculty-mentored experiences that require a high level of student agency and independence. Faculty are invited to develop Intensives to fit their own areas of expertise, to respond to student interests and project proposals, and to address specific community needs and opportunities.
Community Fellows Program
A unique program that aims to build asset-based partnerships with community-based organizations in Poughkeepsie and the greater Poughkeepsie area to support community-identified projects and provide students with meaningful learning opportunities. Students apply to organizations and projects that align with their social justice passions to enhance their academic learning goals. Our partner organizations serve as co-educators and co-mentors of our Vassar students. The OCEL funds the Vassar students in an effort to best support community-based organizations in the Poughkeepsie area. This is a highly competitive program for students and presents an exciting educational opportunity for them to gain more in-depth experience with a community partner and learn from them.
The OCEL will support faculty interested in Community-Based Research (CBR)/Participatory Action Research (PAR). CBR/PAR seeks to ethically engage with communities, co-create research questions and design, and involve all parties as co-contributors in the research process. Community partners are considered equal partners with critical knowledge on how to address core social issues in our communities. CBR/PAR challenges traditional forms of knowledge production, aims to uplift voices in the community, and promote social change.
Vassar VOTES is a non-partisan initiative to empower students to exercise their right to vote. The Vassar Votes team provides information and educational resources to students to empower them to exercise their suffrage. Students have the opportunity to volunteer as peer-to-peer dorm voting advisors within their residential house. Interested in volunteering as a student dorm voting advisor? Email VassarVotes@vassar.edu. Follow @VassarVotes on social media for voting resources.