Civic Engagement

Uniting campus and community

We believe a student experience focused on engaging with and learning from the community prepares students to enter the world beyond Colby as thoughtful leaders and engaged global citizens. Go beyond volunteering and explore your opportunities, role, and responsibility within the community. Build the skills, knowledge and experience to tackle complex social changes.

Regardless of your academic major or professional aspirations, the Office of Civic Engagement supports experiences that cultivate your civic purpose and civic leadership. Become an active citizen and take action to propel social change in your local community and the world. 

Civic Inquiry

The Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships program provides students with opportunities to become thoughtful leaders, critical thinkers, and socially responsible citizens. Through an integrative learning approach including course work, research, global experiences and co-curricular education, students explore the civic dimensions of their academic discipline and develop the intellectual grounding and confidence to address complex public problems and impact change.

A wide array of courses are designed to extend learning beyond the classroom through embedded experiences with community stakeholders, scientific exploration, critical assessment, analytical inquiry, creative expression, and survey research. By integrating academic study with community engagement and critical reflection, students b ecome active citizens, develop targeted skills and abilities, forge meaningful relationships with community service organizations, and enhance their sense of civic identity and purpose.

F E A T U R E D  S T O R Y

Maine Food

Professor Erin Murphy
Documentary Video Production

Professor Erin Murphy and students in her Documentary Video Production course created documentary short subject films about food production and sustainability in Waterville, Maine.

F E A T U R E D  S T O R Y

Faith, Class & Community

Professor David Freidenreich’s
Religious traditions and socioeconomic structures

Professor David Freidenreich’s civic engagement course, Faith, Class and Community explored the various intersections between religious traditions, socioeconomic structures, and communities.

Public action

Educating the next generation of creative leaders and democratic citizens requires students to engage in public action and collaborative problem solving beyond the classroom. Participation in real-world projects elevates the intellectual challenges Colby offers and promotes students’ ability to assume leadership roles on and off-campus.

Colby students and faculty collaborate with Waterville area non-profit organizations, local government, public schools, and businesses on real-world projects that address some of the city’s most pressing challenges. The Office of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships has relationships with over 70 community partner organizations, and is a valuable resource and a pipeline for students looking to place their education squarely in the context of the real world.

Community leadership

Educating the next generation of creative leaders and democratic citizens requires students to engage in public action and collaborative problem solving beyond the classroom. Participation in real-world projects elevates the intellectual challenges Colby offers and promotes students’ ability to assume leadership roles on and off-campus. Experiences empower students to become leaders and role models in responding to challenges and opportunities at local, regional, national, and international levels to propel social change and make democratic engagement a lifelong practice.

Student Initiated Leadership Projects: See how Colby students have charted civic engagement pathways and demonstrated leadership. Student initiated projects include dedicated days of service, youth mentorship, and semester programs that foster long term community partnerships and purposeful reflection.

The O'Hanian-Szostak Fellows for Civic Leadership

The O’Hanian-Szostak Fellows for Civic Leadership offers Colby students an opportunity for community leadership and professional development. Fellowships are competitively awarded to highly-motivated students who are dedicated to public service and have an expressed interest in making an impact on the Colby and greater Waterville communities. Fellows are tasked with building student participation in civic engagement by developing community based projects that align with the students academic interests, focus on meeting community needs and build meaningful relationships with local stakeholders and community members. Fellows work under the guidance of the Office of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships to design and implement high impact initiatives that foster a campus culture of critical inquiry and active citizenship.

“My growth as an active member of the Waterville community through the K-12 engagement opportunities with the museum and the civic engagement office has been an integral part in distinguishing my Colby experience from a mere degree earning journey. Instead, I’ve found the value in getting an education by becoming a part of the community. As someone who has been living away from home in a boarding school and with numerous host families since the age of nine, I’ve found a sense of comfort and belonging through my active engagement with the Waterville community. For the first time, I felt re-connected to a word that I’ve felt distanced by my entire life, home. ”- James Kim 21’

Meet with us to explore opportunities for community engagement and chart your path for civic leadership.

Bill and Joan Alfond Commons
150 Main Street in downtown Waterville.
[email protected]

Elizabeth Jabar, Lawry Family Director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships

Paige Begley, Assistant Director of Student Civic Engagement

Colby Votes

Colby College and Colby Votes is part of the national NESCAC Votes initiative in partnership with the ten other NESCAC campuses and the national organization All In Campus Democracy Challenge. Through the Colby Votes initiative, we are graduating more civically-engaged citizens and advocating for a more inclusive democracy by increasing voter registration and voter turnout on campus. Colby Votes incorporates nonpartisan civic learning into curricular and co-curricular education in order to adopt practices that advance political engagement and informed voter participation, and finally, register and turn out as many students on campus as possible. Get involved!

Colby Cares About Kids

Founded in 2001, Colby Cares About Kids (CCAK) is a program that pairs Colby students (mentors) with local youth (mentees) in one-on-one mentoring pairs for students in grades K-8 within the Greater Waterville area. The goal of the program is to provide the youth with an additional role model and friend who can be a consistent part of their school experience. It began with an introductory English class going into local schools to work with kids with approximately 20-30 mentors. Today CCAK over 300 Colby mentors paired with mentees at 13 schools throughout the Greater Waterville Area. This mentoring initiative is one dimension to the college’s commitment to encouraging civic responsibility as an essential part of a liberal arts education.

Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons

Alfond Commons Residential Community

Alfond Commons is a civic engagement residential community focused on civic learning and democratic engagement. Residents are committed to being engaged members of their community and guided by a set of shared values and goals. Through participation in direct service, academic and community based learning experiences, Alfond Commons residents engage in a rich set of activities that define life at Colby and prepare students to live productive, healthy lives of leadership and purpose.

Chace Community Forum

The Chace Community Forum, on the first floor of the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, is a communal events space for creating and cultivating dialogue and relationship building among community members.

[email protected] | 207-859-4155

Are you a non-profit community organization looking to partner with our Office?

If you are interested in working with our office or meeting with our team to discuss civic engagement opportunities, please fill out the form. We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact Civic Engagement

Bill and Joan Alfond Commons
150 Main Street in downtown Waterville

[email protected]