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Mission of the 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.

Why CEL?

CEL allows students to:

  • Explore your social justice passions
    • Learn more about issues that you care about
    • Learn more about yourself, your identities, and your positionality
  • Increase self-awareness and understanding across difference
    • Analyze larger systems of privilege, power, and oppression
  • Enhance classroom learning
    • Make connections between what you are reading and learning to real-world social justice issues
    • Strengthen critical thinking skills
    • Develop professional skills that contribute to your vocational
      and career goals
  • Learn more about Poughkeepsie and the surrounding area
    • Support and learn alongside communities that face
    • Learn about the strengths and assets of the community

How do I sign up?

Step 1: Set up an appointment with the OCEL! In this meeting, we will talk about your social justice passions, areas of interest, transportation options, and go into more detail about the steps below. If you have a resume prepared, great! If not, we recommend meeting with The Center for Career Education (CCE). In preparation, we encourage you to review CEL Opportunities.

Step 2: Connect and interview with a community organization

Step 3: Email the OCEL to let us know if you are offered a position

Step 4: Ask a faculty member to be your faculty sponsor. We recommend asking someone you have taken a class with previously, or whose research aligns with the work of the organization.

Step 5: Register during the Pre-Registration period or the Add Drop Period


The Office of Community-Engaged Learning was previously known as the “Field Work” office. Established in 1949, the program was developed in cooperation with “civic, welfare, fraternal and church groups” and gave students the opportunity to learn while contributing to the community. In its early years, the office provided students with field experiences allowing them to do applied work with community organizations. From the 1990s to 2017, the office provided students with experiential opportunities that allowed them to examine the way in which the theories and practical experiences of a particular discipline interact. In 2017, the Field Work office was reborn as the “Office of Community-Engaged Learning” (OCEL). The OCEL seeks to create mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations that give students the opportunity to enhance classroom learning, learn alongside community partners, and empower students to become active change agents in their communities.