What are Civic Scholars?

They’re students who believe in the positive impact of community-engaged work. They don’t just earn a degree – they go further. They empower each other and themselves with the confidence that they can get things done. They learn to thrive, adapt and conquer the challenges that await them. They change communities and they change lives.

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Civic Scholars Rise to the Challenge During the Pandemic

This spring, our Civic Scholars have continued to work hard both inside and outside of the virtual classroom in order to complete their amazing experiential learning opportunities amidst the pandemic. 

The examples below illustrate the creative response of our civic scholarship community to the challenges of our current situation: 

  • Professor Edgar Adams (Architecture/Urban Studies) and his students continued their work with RI Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) on the redesign of Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence.  Site-based work in the first part of the semester provided a foundation for students to be able to complete their design exercises remotely. 
  • In her “Historical Methodology and Historiography” course, Professor Debra Mulligan (History) and her students investigated 18th century primary documents and conducted visits to the African American cemetery "God's Little Acre" in Newport to reconstruct the experience of slaves and former slaves in colonial Rhode Island.  Based on conversations with the site coordinators, students shifted to analyzing documents in a number of digital repositories in Rhode Island and beyond.
  • Through her Writing for Business Organizations course, Professor Catherine Forsa (Writing) continued her partnership with the YWCA of Central Falls.  She and her students modified the planned scope of work and worked to redesign the agency’s resource guide. Professor Forsa’s scope of work has been reformed and a completed deliverable is expected.

Our students, faculty members, and community partners have truly been resilient in these challenging times.

Civic Scholars

At RWU, our mission is to bring civic scholarship as a way of doing things to every student, channeling our collective force into a singular goal: to strengthen society through engaged teaching and learning.

Commitment to Community

At Roger Williams University, we are committed to providing immersive learning opportunities for every student, putting their knowledge and skills to work solving real-world problems with community partners.

Civic Scholars at RWU. Empower. Learn. Change.Through the Civic Scholars Program, we are doubling down on our commitment to provide the wide range of project-based learning and community-engaged work that we refer to as civic scholarship. And that means we need you to go further! 

Your support provides the vital resources that prepare our students and faculty to go beyond the classroom and work with community partners on real issues. This isn’t a scholarship or financial aid – your funds help build an infrastructure for civic scholarship at RWU that creates meaningful educational opportunities while working to strengthen society through engaged teaching and learning. 

Please help us reach our goal of providing these transformational educational experiences that prepare students to fulfill their potential as lifelong learners, professionals and citizens. 

Since its launch, the Campaign for Civic Scholars has raised $3.1 million towards its three-year goal of $3.3 million. The powerful message behind the Campaign inspired donors – including Trustees, parents, alumni, and friends of the University – to support our vital, community-engaged work.

New Associate Provost for Community Engagement: Allen Hance

In January 2020, Allen Hance joined Roger Williams University as Associate Provost for Community Engaged Learning, at new role at RWU deigned to elevate the profile of engaged teaching and learning across the university. 

Prior to coming to RWU, Allen served as Director of Engaged Scholarship at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, where he worked with students, faculty, and community partners to develop pathways for community-engaged learning and research.  He was also an Assistant Dean of the College and contributed to a broad range of academic advising, curriculum development, and academic policy initiatives.  As an adjunct lecturer in International and Public Affairs at Brown’s Watson Institute, he regularly taught a junior seminar – The Theory and Practice of Engaged Scholarship – as well as one of the core courses for the Brown in Washington Program. 

Allen earned a BA in philosophy at Dartmouth College, PhD in philosophy at Boston College, and MS in environmental policy at the University of Michigan


Hassenfeld Fellows Making a Difference

The inaugural group of Hassenfeld Fellows presented their work at the Community Engagement Celebration.
The inaugural group of Hassenfeld Fellows at RWU's Community Engagement Celebration.

In 2016, the Hassenfeld Family Initiatives Foundation contributed $500,000 to support faculty development, underwrite the work of Student and Faculty Fellows, and fund interdisciplinary projects in the local community. Read about the inaugural group of Hassenfeld Fellows who applied their knowledge and skills to interdisciplinary projects ranging from immigration law advocacy to working toward creating health equity, and more.

Instilling a Love for Service

The 2017-18 cohort of Feinstein Scholars.
The 2017-18 Alan Shawn Feinstein Leadership Scholars.

In 2017, the Feinstein Foundation committed $500,000 to support local students to attend RWU who had participated in service learning projects in their former elementary and middle schools. Pledging to do good deeds while in elementary or middle school instills a love for service that continues to grow when they arrive at RWU and dive into community-engaged work and volunteer service. Read about six high school students that entered RWU as Alan Shawn Feinstein Leadership Scholars this fall.

Where Scholarship and Community Intersect

The RWU student chapter of FIMRC offers public health education to underserved populations.
RWU's student chapter of FIMRC travels abroad to countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Peru to provide basic public health education to underserved populations.

At RWU, we have several institutes and pathways that connect students with community-engaged projects and opportunities to bridge theory with practice.

  • Through our unique Community Partnerships Center (CPC), our students dive into projects that test their skills and knowledge solving real-world problems with community partners. The CPC's mutually beneficial mission enables our students to serve nonprofit organizations, local government agencies and more – building the real-world skills and experiences employers seek in our graduates, while serving communities who may lack resources to get projects off the ground. 
  • From the Feinstein Center for Service Learning & Community Engagement to faculty-led study-abroad programs like FIMRC (Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children), our students go beyond traditional service learning to work hand-in-hand with community partners on identifying and supporting their community's specific needs.
  • Through the Center for Career and Professional Development, our students get connected with a variety of internship opportunities. Internships not only grow their skills and experiences in a professional setting, but also give students the opportunity to test whether or not they have a passion for that specific work before launching into the workforce.