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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.

Community Engagement & Social Change Concentration


The Jandon Center is the organizational hub for the Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration, through which students embed community work directly into their curricular studies.

The Community Engagement and Social Change (CESC) Concentration connects community work with academic life. Working with the oversight of a faculty adviser, you will combine interdisciplinary coursework and practical work in communities to expand and deepen your understanding of local, national and global issues that affect communities. You’ll develop the skills, attitudes and knowledge to engage mindfully with communities as citizens and leaders.

You will draw on the rich curricular offerings from all of the Five Colleges, as well as from the breadth of resources and expertise of the Jandon Center for Community Engagement to define a focus of study. Examples of students’ areas of interest include immigration and citizenship, public health, education, law and policy, community organizing, community narratives and environmental justice. Depending on your interdisciplinary focus, you are encouraged to link your work to the considerable resources of the college's other centers and of the Smith College School for Social Work.


The CESC Concentration admits a maximum of 15 students per graduating class. We encourage sophomores, juniors and Ada Comstock Scholars to apply. Priority is given to students who have already completed the gateway course and one community-based learning course.

Gateway Course

CCX 120/IDP 120 Community-Based Learning (CBL): Ethics and Practice

Service-learning, civic engagement and community service have become familiar terms for describing forms of community-based learning (CBL) in higher education. Theorists and practitioners continue to debate how to bring community issues into the classroom and how best to bring students into the neighborhoods surrounding their colleges and universities. IDP 120 considers these issues through exposure to both the literature of community engagement and the experiences of those who practice its different forms.

This course serves as a gateway course for the Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration. As such, one of the primary purposes of the class is to give students exposure to the varied opportunities available at the college for engaging with communities. Specifically, the course will focus on volunteer opportunities, course-based engagement and examples of community-based research.

Within and across these different approaches, we will identify and explore the ethical issues that characterize community partnerships and the best practices that attempt to address these issues. Students will also interact with peers, faculty, guest speakers and community members who will provide first-hand perspectives on the local practice of CBL and the critical needs in surrounding communities. (Graded S/U only. 2 credits)


How to Apply

Fall 2021 application deadline has passed. Next application deadline will be announced soon.

Applications will be reviewed by the advisory board in the beginning of November to determine the feasibility of the proposed course of study in the CESC Concentration along with the your intended or declared major. Accepted students will be assigned to an adviser who will oversee your progress through the program and approve internships.



Jandon Center for Community Engagement

Smith College
Wright Hall
Northampton, MA 01060

Phone: 413-585-3060
Fax: 413-585-3068