Center for Community Engagement

‘Making history come alive’

Amherst and Holyoke Community Colleges team up to recreate Holyoke’s history



As one of the country’s first planned industrial cities, Holyoke, Massachusetts has seemingly always been one step ahead of national trends in changing landscapes and fortunes.

Going Public Goes Public

Going Public, an original play by Elias Johansson-Miller ’12, opens Thursday night in Kirby Theater

April 2012—story by Jenny Morgan, photos by Katherine Berry '12

In August of 2010, the Los Angeles Times brought summer vacation to a screeching halt with an unprecedented online publication. The newspaper published names and rankings of some 6,000 public elementary school teachers in a searchable, online database. The ranking tool, called the “value-added analysis,” uses students’ standardized test scores to calculate how much value each teacher adds to, or detracts from, student performance.  Overnight, the story ignited a controversy and sparked a national conversation on teacher performance and standardized testing.


The story also inspired the focus of Elias Johansson-Miller '12’s thesis, Going Public, an original play that explores public education through the real stories of teachers and administrators, including many who were involved in the 2010 Los Angeles teacher-ranking story.

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.

Men’s Cross Country prioritizes in-season community engagement

Team helps with trail clearing and volunteers at Survival Center furniture sale

September 2012–Reilly Horan '13, CCE Athletics Liaison

The men’s cross country team is well into a very competitive fall season–but have taken the time to work on two community engagement projects between races and practices.

Jog for Jill coming to Amherst to raise awareness, funds for lung cancer foundation

Story by Reilly Horan '13, photo by Sam Tang '15. Members of the women's lacrosse team, left to right: Sarah Spector '15, Priscilla Tyler '15, Hillary Densen '13, Lizzie Paul '16, Devin O'Connor '16.

Hillary Densen ’13 is standing up to lung cancer—and organizing other student-athletes at Amherst to do the same.  Densen is teaming up with her lacrosse teammates and Jill’s Legacy, a lung cancer awareness organization, to produce a 5K race to raise funds and awareness about a severely underfunded and misrepresented disease.

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.

Skating with an “Attitude of Gratitude”

Amherst Women’s Hockey engages with the community through “Junior Jeffs” and “Pink in the Rink”

March 2013—story by Lindsay Ewing ’15, CCE Athletics Liaison

The Amherst Women’s Ice Hockey team competed with fervor this season and finished the year third in the NESCAC. Like any successful team, the student-athletes skated with tenacity, skill, and teamwork. Yet it was their “attitude of gratitude” that set coach Jeffrey Matthews and his student-athletes apart.

Athletics Liaisons launch Athletic Team Engagement Leader program with 24-hour retreat

March 2013story by Reilly Horan '13, CCE Athletics Liaison, photography by Eugene Lee '16, CCE photographer

On January 22 and 23, the CCE Athletics Liaisons facilitated a 24-hour retreat to train nineteen new Athletic Team Engagement Leaders (ATELs) to effectively lead the community engagement efforts on their respective teams.

Amherst LEADS, first-year initiative program, presents “Caring Deeply”

Story by Lindsay Ewing ’15, CCE Athletics Liaison, photos by Mark Idleman '15

On March 26, Amherst LEADS hosted “Caring Deeply,” an event as part of its First-Year Initiative Program. Over 150 student-athletes sat captivated in O’Connor Commons as two-time Ugandan Olympic runner Julius Achon shared his powerful life story of struggle, strength, and athletic accolades.