Pitzer College Wins Grant to Launch Local and Global Student Psychosocial Well-Being Program

14-01-23-Costa-Rica-Core-Course-LectureClaremont, Calif. (January 23, 2014) — Pitzer College has been awarded a $15,000 grant by the Bringing Theory to Practice Project to support the development and implementation of a new innovative program designed to engage students in local and global community-based projects that impact their psychosocial well-being. The program kicked off this spring and will span three semesters.

The Global/Local Community Engagement and the Psychosocial Well-Being of First-Year and Sophomore Students program is part of a larger, two-year pilot project that was initiated last fall. A group of 25 first-year students formed action-oriented research teams with faculty mentors in eight coordinated First-Year Seminars. This semester, these teams are partnering with community organizations. Students will also participate in self-development workshops that fine-tune their skills and enhance their sense of social responsibility.

This March, 25 students and 10 faculty members will embark on an intensive week-long study tour at Pitzer’s Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology in Costa Rica, where they will stay with host families and take classes on everything from Central American botany to eco-tourism. The following academic year, these students will participate in a community-based Pitzer study abroad program, where they will apply knowledge and know-how gained through their previous projects to similar endeavors abroad. For example, students whose research team focused on environmental education in local schools in Ontario, CA may undertake a similar project in Beijing, China; students who worked on inmate education in a local prison might adapt what they learned so it can be applied to the criminal justice system in Quito, Ecuador.

Students returning from these sophomore-year study abroad programs will critically examine their experiences and cultivate additional skills through a newly created half-course, Individual and Social Well-Being in Local and Global Communities.

If this pilot program is successful, it may be extended to all Pitzer first-year students . The project was created by a team of Pitzer faculty and staff members, including Nigel Boyle, associate dean for Global/Local Programs and founding director of the Institute for Global/Local Action & Study; Brian Carlisle, vice president for student affairs; Moya Carter, dean of students; Tessa Hicks-Peterson, assistant vice president of community engagement; and Barbara Junisbai, assistant dean of faculty.

Developed in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Bringing Theory to Practice Project is sponsored by the Charles Engelhard Foundation and the S. Engelhard Center. This year, 28 college grants were awarded to form collaborative learning communities to advance practices and policies that reflect the transformative promise of higher education for students.

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Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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