Members of the Class of 2014 at the Burnet School in Newark, where they helped paint murals as part of a day of service. (Karen Mancinelli Paige)

Drew’s deep-seated culture of service will get a boost from a new classroom- and community-based program that connects academics and activism

Research shows that today’s college students are more service-minded than ever before, which is especially apparent at Drew University, where a new program in Civic Leadership will launch in the spring. According to Amy Koritz, director of the school’s Center for Civic Engagement, the new program—funded by a $10,000 grant from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU)—is designed to meet students’ demand for learning opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, nation and world.

“My interest in starting this program stemmed from an onslaught of inquiries from motivated Drew students who wanted to join the Civic Scholars,” she says, referring to the university’s popular program for undergraduates who are selected to participate at the time of admission. “This made me realize that Drew has many more budding community activists who might benefit from a structured opportunity to develop their leadership skills while becoming more engaged in issues that they care about.”

Koritz says the Civic Leadership program will bring together various university departments—both academic and non-academic—to create a learning experience that’s rooted in class work, field work and a series of workshops designed to strengthen core skills.

“We envision the program involving Drew’s Center for Civic Engagement, in addition to its Center for Career Development, Academic Internship Office and Department of Student Activities,” she says. “Together, these departments can draw upon their individual strengths and purposes to offer students a mixture of credit-bearing requirements and community-based learning opportunities.”

Drew’s grant from AACU was awarded in partnership with the Bringing Theory to Practice Project (BTtoP). The university was one of only seven schools selected to receive a program development grant.—Michael Bressman