BUILDING ON THE BLOCK
Our aim in strategic planning is to deepen the CCE's effectiveness in advancing Colorado College's strategic plan, titled "Building on the Block." We sought to determine how the CCE can support the community engagement and engaged learning that best advances core goals of the college.
Colorado College’s commitment to developing our students into lifelong engaged citizens is nothing new, reflected in our mission to “develop habits of intellect and imagination that will prepare students for learning and leadership throughout their lives,” and core institutional value to “encourage engagement and social responsibility at local, national, and global levels.” Through supporting place-based action, learning, and research opportunities, the CCE embodies this commitment by challenging students to apply the spirit, intellect, and imagination developed through a liberal arts education toward solving public problems. Yet how we as a college realize that commitment — and more specifically how the CCE builds capacity and coherency to that commitment — calls for renewed investment and strategic direction.
Community-engaged learning, research, and practice can powerfully support the recommendations of CC’s strategic plan to “realize the potential of our ground-breaking Block Plan,” “enhance our distinctive place of learning,” and “connect the CC experience.”
By educating the CC community about the challenges for and priorities of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region, community engagement develops a “sense of place” and understanding not only of the physical world in which CC is situated, but the communities in which we are embedded. Through programming that helps connect “students’ learning experience across coursework, and across curricular and co-curricular experiences,” community-based learning helps students discern the intersections between their engaged experiences and their intellectual and moral development as college students. Such experiences bridge students’ college years and their post-CC lives and allow exploration in career pathways in public good fields. Research also shows that community-based learning develops skills in students to more effectively navigate diversity and build inclusive spaces. Community-based research contributes to CC’s overarching strategic aim to develop a spirit of innovation in our students, cultivating knowledge and skills that enable students to “produce real-world answers to complex questions” and become “change-makers” in social and environmental realms. By promoting the use and best practices of community-based learning and research among faculty, the CCE builds on the assets of the block: immersive, experiential, and applied learning.
The CCE’s planning processes aimed to deepen the intentionality and outcomes of community-engaged work at Colorado College toward realizing these components of the CC educational mission and strategic plan. Conceptualizing our work as supporting the central mission and priorities of the college, and remaining true to our work as a “collaborative,” we sought to democratically form this plan by soliciting input from communities on and off campus.
This plan reflects the core concerns and priorities of the campus community, is rooted in the core concerns and priorities of Colorado College as an institution, and will be realized through our support of work across the campus.