This past week I visited Northwestern University in Chicago. One of the first questions I always ask students and admissions representatives when I visit a college or university is about their service programs. Every college or university will say they are dedicated to community service; however, when it comes down to it, only a select number have very developed civic engagement and service programs.
I was really impressed by the wide variety of global initiatives Northwestern has begun and how committed to community service they are. The level of student community engagement draws me to the University. Northwestern has many options available to its students who wish to give back to the local community and community at large, including a Civic Engagement Certificate Program.
Northwestern has its own Center for Civic Engagement that offers a range of programs that promote civic participation and engaged learning throughout the Northwestern community. Programs are often run in collaboration with other schools, departments and offices, serving a variety of different populations across campus. Below are a couple highlights of the Center for Civic Engagement:
Engage Chicago is an immersive eight-week field study program, designed to give students a powerful summer learning experience in the city. Students are placed in internships at non-profit organizations throughout the city of Chicago where they help to plan and implement projects that support the mission of the host non-profit. The academic coursework, hands-on experience at top organizations and institutions, and thoughtful reflection, Engage Chicago is an opportunity for students to learn about social change and themselves.
Civic Engagement Certificate Program:
The Civic Engagement Certificate Program is a two- year program coordinated in conjunction with the School of Education and Social Policy that gives undergraduates a deeper understanding of the forces that affect communities and how to achieve positive change. Students can use the knowlefe and skilled gained through a curriculum and faculty guidance to improve their communities. In addition, students also perform 100 hours of community service over the two years.
In addition to these specialized programs developed for undergraduate students, one of the colleges within the University is called the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP). The admission reporesentative described the school to me as a place for students who want to create change and make a difference in people’s lives. The school offers different concentrations including Social Policy and Human Development and Psychological Services. I learned that SESP students hold most of the leadership positions on campus, which I thought was very interesting and says a lot about how a long standing commitment to service and social justice define students as leaders and difference makers.
From my visit, I learned that Northwestern is a great place for students who want to be active and engaged members of their community and eager to give back to the world around them.