EWING, NJ – The TCNJ Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement mobilized First Year Students for their Community Engaged Learning (CEL) graduation requirement through class-based projects connected with their Freshmen Seminar Program (FSP) classes. This year, the Bonner Center worked with faculty on over 40 FSP courses to connect community engaged learning projects with the course curriculum. This form of community engaged learning – or service learning – is recognized as a high impact practice in education, particularly regarding civic engagement.
Some of the exciting projects this semester include trips to museums in New York and Philadelphia, a visit to Asbury Park, Socrates Café sessions at Mercer County Corrections Center, and clean up projects throughout Trenton. With all of the projects, the Bonner Center emphasizes TCNJ students working alongside residents and youth from the Trenton area, to not only introduce students to a new environment, but also to provide youth and residents with opportunities for unique experiences as well.
In early November, Professor Winkel’s class ‘Multicultural New York: The City from its Beginnings to the Present’ worked with students from the Trenton area. TCNJ students in Professor Winkel’s class accompanied youth from Greg Grant’s Academic Sports Academy after school program on a trip to the American Museum of Natural Science. Students from the after school program and TCNJ enjoyed a team-based scavenger hunt, during which they had the opportunity to explore the museum. Many of the youth in the program had never visited New York City before, and were incredibly excited to join the class on the trip.
The following weekend, the TCNJ class traveled back to New York City along with Trenton high school students in the Young Men and Women’s Leadership Academy. The group took a walking tour that explored the Battery Park area, after which they visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Young Men and Women’s Leadership Academy is a youth empowerment and peer mentoring program at Trenton Central High School founded and run by Bonner Scholar Darrel Frater. The trip was a great opportunity to take both TCNJ students and Trenton High students out of their everyday comfort zone and see new places.
Overall, the class and its CEL component were incredibly successful. TCNJ students gave the project a resounding “A” grade, noting that working with the Trenton students, and getting off TCNJ’s campus to meet new people and travel to new places were great experiences.
# # #