Priority 1 of the 2015 strategic plan recommends strengthening efforts that support learning by doing, recognizing that experiential learning – whether through coursework, study abroad, internships and other summer experiences, community engagement programs, or entrepreneurship and leadership activities – is most effective when these opportunities “are combined with platforms for critical reflection and analysis.” The CCE has been a leader in designing and implementing programs that include such platforms; the new strategic plan recommends that this model be expanded to strengthen all students’ abilities to combine analysis with action in the world.  

The Dean of the Faculty has convened a working group to lead the process of outlining opportunities for students to learn by doing, define the CCE’s role in providing those opportunities, and set long term goals and three-year-outcomes for experiential learning and community engagement.

The working group will consider a range of questions, among them:

 What are Amherst College’s priorities for experiential learning or learning by doing?

  • What is the role of community engagement in the context of learning by doing?
  • What is the value of a community engagement office at Amherst College?
  • What is the appropriate role for the Center for Community Engagement?  
  • What educational and other objectives does the College hope to address by integrating experiential learning approaches throughout the curriculum and in co-curricular activities?
  • How can the CCE be more fully integrated into the College’s academic mission and curriculum? 
  • What experiential learning assets does the College have?
  • How can experiential learning initiatives be evaluated?

To inform its work, the working group will take into account the CCE’s work and impact, community engagement programs at other institutions and the AAC&U’s High Impact Educational Practices which have been widely tested and shown to support learning of college students from many backgrounds. The working group will consult with the faculty and other campus constituencies as necessary.

Five members of the faculty, three CCE staff members, and one staff member representative from Advancement, Student Affairs, and the Career Center will comprise the working group.

The working group will submit its recommendations – including definitions of learning by doing and community engagement and ten year goals for learning by doing and community engagement efforts that are aligned with the College strategic plan – to the Dean of the Faculty, who will direct the CCE to review and revise its programs accordingly.


Sarah C. Barr, Director, Center for Community Engagement

Lisa Brooks, Associate Professor of English and American Studies

Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 Professor of Political Science

Ethan Clotfelter, Professor of Biology and Neuroscience

Megan Briggs Lyster, Director of Innovation Programs, Center for Community Engagement

Karen Lee Miller, Associate Director and Director of Leadership Programs, Center for Community Engagement

Ursula Olender, Director, Career Center

Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Associate Dean of the Faculty

Katherine R.E. Sims, Assistant Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies

Demitrius Brown, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Life

Lisa C. Stoffer, Director, Grants Office