Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy

In these times of complex national and international interactions, nothing is more important than learning how we can work together within our own communities and with the citizens of communities from other countries around the world. We need to join together to address enduring challenges of inequality, injustice, environmental degradation, and racial and ethnic conflict. In order to do so, we need to develop a complex understanding of the strengths and limitations of our democratic and economic institutions, as well as master skills of communication, conflict negotiation, and grant writing. 

The Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy is an interdisciplinary, academic center that is dedicated to cultivating responsible civic engagement and leadership for social justice through engaged scholarship and reciprocal community collaborations. Guided by a faculty steering committee, the Center administers three programmatic areas at Connecticut College : 1) the student certificate program in Community Action and Public Policy, 2) Engaged Scholarship & Community Learning, 3) Community Partnerships and Engagement.

Learning Goals for the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy

The Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy is a multidisciplinary academic center that advances teaching, learning, research, and community collaborations to create more just and equitable communities. The Center’s certificate in Community Action and Public Policy cultivates intellectual and ethical judgment and prepares students for lives of civic engagement and leadership. Holleran Center scholars earn a certificate in Community Action and Public Policy at graduation by successfully supplementing their major with the Holleran Gateway course, the Junior and Senior Seminars, and four additional courses that expand their understanding of their topic; a College-sponsored summer internship; and a Senior Integrative Project.

Content and Knowledge Base

Students will acquire knowledge of social and public policy in historical, cultural and political contexts within a liberal arts framework. Students will analyze and understand how public policy can both ameliorate and contribute to multiple forms of inequality (e.g., race and poverty).

Critical Thinking and Social Analysis

Students will unite intellectual inquiry with meaningful social, political and civic action in local and global communities. Students will use a variety of theoretical and research methods to investigate social problems, analyze public policy and propose solutions for social change that are based on the principles of equity.

Ethics, Values, and Citizenship

Students will cultivate intellectual and ethical judgment, preparing them for lives of civic engagement, social change and leadership. Students will examine individual and collective identity and responsibility within local and global communities.

Skills and Capacities

Students will acquire and practice problem-solving and community-building skills, such as budgeting, project designing, public speaking, collaborating and community organizing, planning, grant-writing and effective communication and interpersonal skills.

The Program in Community Action

The Holleran Center certificate program, Program in Community Action and Public Policy (PICA), deepens students' knowledge and skills as active and responsive citizens. Students integrate classroom liberal arts with experiential learning and action research in local and global communities. Through PICA, students acquire and practice problem-solving and community building skills, such as collaborating and community organizing, project designing, grant-writing, budgeting, and effective communication and interpersonal skills.

PICA scholars earn a Certificate in Community Action and Public Policy at graduation by successfully supplementing their major studies with the Holleran Gateway course, the Junior and Senior Seminars, and four additional courses which expand their understanding of their topic; a college-sponsored summer internship; and a senior integrative project.

The Holleran Center certificate program, Program in Community Action and Public Policy (PICA), offers a unique opportunity for students to com­bine their majors with course work, community learning, public service and policy development. Students in the program engage in community­ based experiences and develop skills in public speaking, conflict resolution and leadership. This certificate program unites an academically challenging curriculum with real-world experiences. Students engage in a wide variety of community projects and action research, exploring the tension among individuals' wants, community needs and citizens' responsibilities.

Application Process and Criteria for Acceptance: Students apply during the first semester of their sophomore year. The application process begins with informational meetings in early September. Each student is assigned a Holleran Center faculty/staff and student adviser to assist in completing an application. Holleran Center advisers, as well as major advisers, help students explore possibilities for a culminating Senior Integrative Project. With the guidance of their advisers, students design programs tailored to their individual interests. Acceptance into the program is competitive and based on diverse criteria.


Core Courses

These courses should be chosen in consultation with the Holleran Center adviser. They should be selected with the goal of acquiring both broad and substantive knowledge related to the student’s planned Senior Integrative Project. These courses should be no more than one from the student’s major, no more than one 100-level course, and three or more courses at the 200, 300 or 400 level. Please note that students are allowed up to two courses from their minor or any other department. Courses from study abroad may also count.

Gateway Course and Community Learning Seminar

During the spring semester of sophomore year PICA students complete the four-credit Gateway Course: CA 201: Foundations of Community Action and corresponding CA 201A - a two-credit community learning seminar: New London Community Practicum. These courses serve as an introduction to the certificate program. Students explore the foundations of community action, from developing a complex understanding of identity, community and agency to the relationship between communities, social and political institutions, public policies, and social justice movements. While enrolled in this course, PICA students also participate in a two-credit Community Learning Practicum. Students have a hands-on community-based learning experience, acquire active citizenship skills, and contribute to enriching the New London community. Together, the two courses provide students with mutually reinforcing classroom and community action experiences. 





Junior Seminar/Skill Building

Building on the content of the Gateway Course, CA 301, CA 302, the two-credit Junior Seminar introduces students to the history of social movements, theories of power and strategies for bringing about change. In addition to class-based readings and discussion, students engage in a 25 hour per semester community action project on campus or in the community of New London. Students develop individual projects in concert with their PICA interests. The projects are oriented toward meaningful social change, collaborating with community partners, and uniting intellectual inquiry with political action. The seminar meetings provide a forum to discuss projects with other PICA students. In addition, the course equips students with a range of analytic and practical tools for contributing to meaningful social change. Analytic tools include broadening conceptual vocabulary to think critically about social change, acquiring an understanding of the history of social movements and engaging in scholarly debates about power. The practical tools include research-funding opportunities, budgeting, grant writing, web-based communication skills, public speaking and organizational skills.





Community Internship

Students successfully complete an internship of at least 300 hours either in the U.S. or abroad. The internships are related as directly as possible to the student’s planned Senior Integrative Project. The internship is traditionally done during the summer between the junior and senior years and is supported by a $3,000 stipend from the College. To be eligible for College internship funding, students must successfully complete the requirements of the Career Preparation program through the Hale Center for Career Development.

Senior Seminar

The PICA senior seminars (CA 401 and CA 402) are designed to provide students with an opportunity to discuss and integrate their educational experiences within the Program for Community Action and Public Policy, further develop their awareness, knowledge, and skills for individual and collective action, foster scholar-activist identity development, support the development and completion of their senior integrative projects, and prepare for two important opportunities to share their scholar-activism with the community. 

Senior Integrative Project

Senior students complete an independent, integrative project that examines a particular community challenge using the methods of the Center and those of the student’s field. This is the culminating work for students in the Program in Community Action and Public Policy. This may be presented as an Individual Study, an Honors Study in the student’s major, or a Capstone Project in an approved 300 or 400-level seminar. Students must receive a grade of B+ or higher in the senior integrative project to complete the program successfully.