New College’s proud tradition of civic engagement reaches back to its founding. Today’s New College student carry on that tradition through active involvement in local, state, national, and even international communities.
Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program
New College coordinates a statewide civic program called the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program (JOIP) that gives students hands-on experience addressing community concerns. In addition to students from UA, students from Auburn University, Stillman College, the University of Montevallo, Troy University, the University of South Alabama, Alabama A&M, and Tuskegee University have also participated in the JOIP.
Walker County Internship Program
One of New College’s premier civic engagement projects, the Walker County Internship Program, is part of the JOIP. Every summer New College interns live and work in Walker County, a rural community about 60 miles north of Tuscaloosa. Working closely with the Walker Area Community Foundation, UA interns learn first-hand the challenges and benefits of joining their talents and resources with those of community partners. True to the premise that strong, collaborative relationships are crucial to effect social change, students immerse themselves in their surroundings, living, working and socializing in the community as they engage issues identified by local nonprofits and the WACF.
For more information, contact John Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or (205) 348-4600; read this article about the summer 2014 program; or view a PowerPoint presentation from the program’s pilot year (2011).
Partnerships with Other Organizations
For students seeking a different kind of civic engagement experience, New College maintains a number of relationships with organizations and community partners seeking to make lasting change happen in communities.
New College and UA students and faculty have donated their time and expertise to the Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center, whose purpose is to commemorate the memories of the nine young men known as the “Scottsboro Boys,” wrongfully accused, improperly tried, and falsely convicted of raping two white women in 1930s Alabama. Students helped to design the museum’s website and some of its promotional materials. And New College faculty, Dr. Ellen Griffith Spears and Prof. John Miller, were instrumental in obtaining exonerations and posthumous pardons for the Scottsboro defendants. Learn more about the Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center.
New College students regularly serve as Creative Campus Interns. Creative Campus is a program at UA whose purpose is to promote cultural arts in the Tuscaloosa community and on campus. This student-driven group seeks novel ways to bring communities together through the arts. Dr. Andrew Dewar, a member of the New College faculty, is co-director of Creative Campus. Learn more about Creative Campus.
New College students also are involved with the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art K-12 Fellowship Program. Fellows assist art teachers in Tuscaloosa elementary and middle schools with projects that respond to themes and concepts featured in the Paul R. Jones Collection, a collection of around 2,000 works donated to The University of Alabama as a teaching collection. The Jones Collection is one of the largest holdings of 20th-century African-American art in the world. Learn more about the Jones Collection, Gallery, and K-12 outreach program.
The Druid City Garden Project is another local program popular with New College students that focuses on school-age children in the greater Tuscaloosa area. The Garden Project’s mission is to establish and use sustainable teaching gardens at area schools as part of a hands-on math and science curriculum. Another way the gardens are used is to give children opportunities to sell produce at local farmers’ markets to teach valuable lessons in entrepreneurship. Learn more about the Druid City Garden Project.
New College students also have done civic engagement work in communities in Alabama’s Black Belt, which lies some 40 miles south of Tuscaloosa. For example, New College students have worked with the Sawyerville Day Camp, a free day camp run all summer long in Hale County Alabama. The camp provides children with activities and fieldtrips and their parents with much-needed day-care for school-age children. Learn more about Sawyerville Day Camp.
Another Black Belt resource is Project Horseshoe Farm, a non-profit that aims to better the lives of children, seniors, and the mentally disabled in Hale County. In addition to providing tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment programs for area children, Project Horseshoe Farm provides community programs and housing options for mentally disabled community members and older residents of the County. Learn more about Project Horseshoe Farm.
New College even uses civic engagement as a teaching tool by incorporating service learning activities in many of its seminars. For example, Cooperation and Conflict, a popular seminar available for honors (NEW 238) and regular (NEW 237) UA credit, uses service learning hours at local schools and with local nonprofits to give students hands-on experience collaborating with community members and students. Working to help community partners and schools with projects they identify is a key component of bringing together academic expertise and citizen know-how. Students taking New 236 (Organic Gardening) work with the Druid City Garden Project to advance its mission of establishing sustainable gardens at local schools.