Center for Community Engagement

How Learning Happens

Education on Fire
January 2012—story by Jenny Morgan, photo by Katherine Berry '12

First ever TedxPioneerValley 'cracks open' assumptions about education

In December of 1940, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon—a small, agricultural village in southern France— began a rescue mission of heroic proportions.

Bridging years of advocacy and scholarship with life at Amherst: Professor Paola Zamperini brings Tibet to the classroom and beyond

Paola Zamperini
September 2012—Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Civilizations Paola Zamperini has begun, by all measures, an exciting year — and she’ll be the first to tell you that this year has been twenty years in the making.

Examining history through a modern lens

Professor Eric Sawyer engages Northampton's past with opera, community

Daley and Halligan

You’d be hard pressed to find an artistic production as richly embedded in local community as Associate Professor of Music and composer Eric Sawyer’s opera, The Garden of Martyrs.

An Unwanted Legacy: Mercury in the Connecticut River Watershed


Mike and Nora
May 2012—story by Jenny Morgan, photo courtesy of Anna Martini

Nearly ten years ago, Associate Professor of Geology Anna Martini took a group of students to the Connecticut River for what Martini thought would be a typical classroom assignment. They set out to investigate the deposition of inorganic mercury from Mount Tom, the coal-fired power plant situated between Holyoke and Easthampton, Massachusetts. After collecting both lichan from trees and sediment from a small lake along the river, the class analyzed their samples and found strikingly high amounts of mercury in both— and what began as a simple classroom experiment quickly became Martini’s newest area of research. Almost a decade later, the project has transformed into a multifaceted, interdisciplinary endeavor that involves both scholars and community stakeholders.

Fall 2012 Community-Based Learning Courses

Story by Jenny Morgan, photo by Sam Tang '15

From Skyping with community organizers in India to designing sound for live performances, the sky is truly the limit with this fall's community-based learning courses. There's never been more to choose from, either: this semester, there are 18 community-based learning courses across eight academic departments and one first-year seminar.

Explore the spring 2013 semester community-based learning courses

January 2013—story by Jenny Morgan, photo courtesy of professor Anna Martini

This spring is going to be another banner semester for community-based learning at Amherst.

With fifteen courses to choose from, students will delve into topics ranging from desegregation in Cambridge, Mass. to hydrogeology in local watersheds. They will create original music, theater, and research.  They will explore, teach, and learn from local communities.

‘Treating everyone more equally’: Jan Jourdain’s advocacy for Belchertown’s veterans


Jan Jourdain
February 2012—story by Jenny Morgan, photo by Sam Tang '15

It has been fourteen years since Jan Jourdain first accepted a position in the Robert Frost library at Amherst College, but she’ll tell you that no two days have ever been quite the same.