WHAT IS CIVIC ENGAGEMENT? 

Al-Quds Bard College considers Civic Engagement as the broader motif encompassing individual and collective action designed to address societal needs with measurable impact to help shape the future of Palestine. Civic Engagement by definition, takes the form of activism, advocacy, volunteerism, and community-engaged research, which is instrumental to fostering a healthier environment with mutually beneficial contributions to the public good. Focusing on creating mechanisms and incentives to encourage youth participation, Al-Quds Bard College motivates young voices to cultivate and lead civic engagement projects equipped with the needed skill set to bring about meaningful and positive changes to all aspects of the Palestinian society.

 

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AT AL-QUDS BARD COLLEGE? 

The Civic Engagement Department at Al-Quds Bard College aims towards the constant cultivation and implementation of Student-Led Initiatives (SLI) - a program in which students design and run projects based on the needs of the Palestinian society, including economic, social, and political needs. The projects begin with students’ curiosity and passion, and evolve into projects that impact a corner of the campus, a village or neighborhood, or even the international community. SLI is open to anyone with the desire to sensibly connect to the world around them—connect with their hands, through relationships, through organizing, through building, through knowing how things are and how they got to be that way. Student leaders are then equipped with the necessary civic skills to lead projects, mainly through receiving strategic counseling and workshops in communication, fundraising and group facilitation from the SLI Coordinator.

With its exceptional programs, Al-Quds Bard College centralizes youth civic engagement, striving to produce leaders civically engaged in their communities and assisting them in realizing their full potential as community actors and educators. Al-Quds Bard College established a Student-Led-Initiatives office to harness students’ passion of becoming change agents in their communities. The SLI office provides step-by-step resources for students to construct and sustain civic engagement projects, therefore developing frameworks necessary to further institutionalize community engagement. Supplementing students in skill-derivative workshops with the tools and methods to cultivate civic engagement projects belonging to different thematic areas increases the opportunity to leverage AQB’s expertise and resources to develop creative solutions. The SLI office engages students in professional workshops, connects them with community partners and experienced individuals, and manages to organize awareness campaigns, advocacy activities, and other educational events. This in return offers a structured path for students to merge curricular and co-curricular pursuits through practical learning, which enriches their academic experience while providing a tangible benefit for the community. The spirit of civic engagement is embedded in so much of AQB’s academic environment. AQB focuses on undertaking activities that elevate active participation to feature educational components that draw on the liberal arts experience:

  • The Civic Engagement Course: This course is a network collaborative course, where a number of global affiliated institutions with Bard College join the course. The course is predicated on the belief in the public purpose of higher education, promoting best practices and aiming to help students, faculty, and institutions realize their full potential as active global and local citizens.
  • Upraised Voices: This project empowers self-expression and critical inquiry among marginalized Palestinian young people through introducing them to creative writing and debate as distinctive methods of articulating their views on underlying personal, social, political, and economic issues.
  • Critical Practice Studio (CPS): Critical Practice Studio is an ambitious post-disciplinary and bi-lingual intensive program conducted in both Arabic and/or English. CPS seeks to bring together students, scholars, artists, architects and activists from a local and transnational network of institutions and communities both in Palestine and across the globe.
  • Internships: AQB Students have the opportunity to combine the theoretical concepts that they are exposed with an enriching practical experience through interning with Palestinian civil society organizations.
  • Qatar Foundation: The Education Above All Foundation (EAA) in Qatar offers scholarship opportunities to marginalized Palestinian youth, adults, refugees and students from disadvantaged communities with inclusive and equitable access to high-quality US-accredited and Palestinian-accredited undergraduate and graduate education. Civic engagement is an integral aspect of the students’ journey at AQB and all scholarship recipients have to complete a mandatory number of civic engagement hours (35 hours for undergraduates and 10 hours for graduates each semester), as well as participate in various Qatar Connection activities.

WORKING WITH SOCIETY FOR SOCIETY 

The Civic Engagement Department at Al-Quds Bard College aims towards the constant cultivation and implementation of Student-Led Initiatives (SLI) - a program in which students design and run projects based on the needs of the Palestinian society, including economic, social, and political needs. The projects begin with students’ curiosity and passion, and evolve into projects that impact a corner of the campus, a village or neighborhood, or even the international community. SLI is open to anyone with the desire to sensibly connect to the world around them—connect with their hands, through relationships, through organizing, through building, through knowing how things are and how they got to be that way. Student leaders are then equipped with the necessary civic skills to lead projects, mainly through receiving strategic counseling and workshops in communication, fundraising and group facilitation from the SLI Coordinator.

 

  • Unheard Palestinian Stories: is a student-led initiative by AQB graduate, Baha’ Ebdeir. The project addresses the complexity of Palestinian social norms through Open Mics. Recently, several UPS open mics have been held as part of AQB’s gender and race classes. Thus, allowing students to articulate their thoughts on social norms with a focus on gender outside the classroom environment.

  • Written Voices: is a civic engagement project led by AQB graduate students - Shadin Nassar and Ramez Hayek - that aims to develop the creative view of the local community and the Palestinian educational system through a diverse range of unique and innovative writing workshops. The lack of academic resources and tools required to develop creative writing in Palestinian schools and institutions has gradually resulted in negligence, and decreased the chances of many promising writers to flourish, build self-confidence, and develop artistic self-expression. Accordingly, the chief objective of Written Voices, which was started in September 2017 is to manifest the positive impact and benefits of creative writing to various segments of the Palestinian society, with an emphasis on underrepresented communities, and ultimately, provide tangible assistance and guidance for promising writers. This project also seeks to raise an educated and artistic generation that is capable of expressing their inner identities independently and investing their creative capacity into an impactful change within society through activities like annual creative writing summer camps, series of professional workshops, open mic events, and creative writing contests.

  • The Debate Club: led by AQB student Shumoo Alayassa is a continuation of multiple years of intra campus activities nationally and internationally. The Debate Club is one of AQB's most influential initiatives as students have participated in local debate tournaments in other Palestinian universities, as well as international tournaments in countries like Hungary, USA, and Spain. It encourages students to stay alert and always think on their feet, as it develops the skills of debating academically about all forms of topics using solid and structured tools to stay focused and coherent.

  • EcoAQB for Eco Footprints: led by AQB students Mariam Alqam, Ahmad Hijawi, and Christine Awad is an environmental sustainability club that aspires to introduce unique eco friendly activities, skill-derivative workshops, and environmental campaigns to raise awareness about climate change issues and environmental concerns in Palestine. The ultimate goal is to assist students in identifying environmental problems in Palestine using the available resources, and to come up with creative solutions to these problems. This project seeks to introduce mitigation practices, implement recycling, reducing, and reusing methods, and contribute to AQB community building via various inclusive activities, from which both staff and students can benefit.

Stay Tuned about Al-Quds Bard College's Progress & Opportunities

Subscribe by typing your email, first & last name in order to receive the most updated news and opportunities from Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences.