25th Anniversary April 3, 4, 5, 2024


Community-Engaged Scholarship at Princeton & Beyond 

On April 3, 4, and 5th, 2024, the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES), formerly the Community-Based Learning Initiative (CBLI), will celebrate 25 years of the program’s life at Princeton University. The activities will feature a selection of regional and national scholar-practitioners from universities and community-based organizations whose work exemplifies community-engaged teaching, learning, and research collaborations around topics of community history, environmental and racial justice, refugee and immigrant settlement, and food access and justice. 

Registration is now open via this form. All are welcome!

The deadline to request an accommodation is Friday, March 22.

For more information contact [email protected] 

Descendant film screening details and image of person looking at Mobile Bay

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

6:30-7:15 PM, Opening Reception at Princeton Public Library

7:15-9:00 PM, Public Screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary Descendant 

Location: Princeton Public Library's Community Room (65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08542)

Screening and discussion with Ms. Joycelyn Davis, Africatown community advocate, co-founder and Vice-President of the Clotilda Descendants Association and organizer of the Spirit of Our Ancestors Festival & Dr. Kern Jackson, co-writer and co-producer of Descendant, Associate Professor & Director of the African American Studies Program, University of South Alabama.

Discussion will be facilitated by Magdely Michelle Diaz de Leon '24, Medical Anthropology, Environmental studies.

Descendant follows members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and community history as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from Africa to America. The ship’s existence, a centuries-old open secret, is confirmed by a team of marine archeologists. The film explores implications of the Clotilda’s discovery for the descendants, who grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies. Descendant received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

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Thursday, April 4, 2024 

Community-Engaged Scholarship: Exemplars from the Field

portraits of 3 individual panel presenters

Panel 1: Noon-1:30

Connecting Campus, Curriculum, and Communities for Reciprocal Gains: Engaged Scholarship at Swarthmore

Location: Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building room 399

This presentation will address the overall approach the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility has taken under the leadership of Ben Berger to reimagine engaged scholarship at Swarthmore, which has focused on faculty collaborations, curricular innovations, and deep community partnerships. Katie Price will offer a brief overview of particularly successful programs in the Arts & Humanities, including our partnership with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and the recently launched Engaged Humanities Studio. Yaroub Al-Obaidi and Katie Price will then co-present on Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary, a project that brings together book artists with members of the resettled Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian communities. The project was formally recognized by the City of Philadelphia for its contributions to the community in 2019, and has since continued in several forms, including the formation of an Arabic-English newspaper in the city of Philadelphia, several academic publications, and a new course—cross-listed in Arabic and English—Refuge: Resettled in Philadelphia, which brings community partners, students, and instructors together to co-create a comic book about “sticky families.”

Swarthmore College’s mission statement outlines an explicit commitment to peace, equity, and social responsibility, rooted in our founding as a co-educational, Quaker, liberal arts college. “Engaged scholarship” represents a major component of living into that commitment. Swarthmore views engaged scholarship as an orientation, one that directs our energies not solely toward an academic community, or toward the life of the mind, but also toward pressing public issues and shared problems. Through its Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, one of the largest and most active engaged scholarship centers at any liberal arts college, Swarthmore connects campus, curriculum, and communities for reciprocal gains. Our wide-ranging approaches include intensive collaborations with off-campus partners; experiential learning that connects students with issues outside the classroom; and scholarship that resides on campus but aims toward social amelioration or public benefit. 

Panelists: Ben Berger '90 is Executive Director of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and Associate Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College; Katie L. Price is Senior Associate Director of the Lang Center and teaches courses in the English department at Swarthmore College; Yaroub Al-Obaidi is an Iraqi-American conceptual and social artist and is a PhD candidate and lecturer in Rhetoric and Communications at Duquesne University. 

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Panel 2 portraits of 5 panelists

Panel 2: 4:30-5:45 PM

Responsible Research Practices with Environmental Justice Communities: Africatown Community History

Location: Chancellor Green Rotunda

In 1860, the last ship of enslaved people landed on the shore of Mobile Bay. After the end of the Civil War, these survivors of the Middle Passage bought land on the plateau above the river, built homes and a school, and called this place Africantown. Africatown was a sanctuary for Black Americans throughout Reconstruction and Jim Crow. However, like many historic Black towns along the Gulf Coast, Africatown has been surrounded by polluting industries located on former plantation grounds. Present and avoidable threats include ongoing pollution, rezoning of residential areas to heavy industry, and increased truck traffic diverted from a new toll bridge. In the wake of the 2019 discovery of the slaveship Clotilda, Africatown has attracted international attention through the award-winning 2022 documentary Descendant.

Black descendant communities like Africatown are knowledge keepers, maintaining stories, ceremonies, and practices. Ms. Joycelyn Davis, a Clotilda Descendant, has been engaged in a lifelong project to tell Africatown’s story and support the community’s ability to survive and thrive. Dr. Kern Jackson, a trained oral historian, has been documenting oral traditions in the community since his arrival at the University of South Alabama. Students in Professor Jay Fiskio’s Environmental Studies courses first began partnering with Africatown in 2014, and since then the community has warmly welcomed generations of Oberlin students. Community historians have mentored student researchers and invited students to learn the history of Africatown through oral history interviews. Currently, Dr. Jackson is co-PI on an NSF grant focused on responsible research with environmental justice communities with faculty from Oberlin and Tennessee State University, and Ms. Davis and Dr. Jackson are co-PIs with Professor Fiskio on an application to the Mellon Foundation for environmental justice studies with faculty from Pennsylvania State University.

Panelists: Jay Fiskio Professor and Director of Environmental Studies, Chair of Food Studies, Oberlin College; Ms. Joycelyn Davis, co-founder and Vice-President of the Clotilda Descendants Association and organizer of the Spirit of Our Ancestors Festival; Dr. Kern Jackson, co-writer and co-producer of the documentary film Descendant, Associate Professor & Director of the African American Studies Program, University of South Alabama; and Kai Vera Menafee, a senior at Oberlin College majoring in Africana Studies and Dance, with a minor in Environmental Studies and concentration in Education, will talk about some of the many vectors of their longstanding and iterative community-based research and teaching collaborations. Dr. Anu Ramaswami, Sanjay Swani ’87 Professor of India Studies, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute will provide commentary on the panel.

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Portrait of Nancy Cantor

6:00 PM-7:30 PM

Research Universities as Partners in Community-Engaged Scholarship

Reception & Keynote Address by Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark

Remarks by:

Professor D. Vance Smith, Department of English;

Dana Hughes Moorhead, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS);

Jalen Travis '24, Football, Truman Scholar, Anthropology, African American Studies, ProCES Student Advisory Board

Location: Chancellor Green Rotunda

Co-Sponsored by the Department of African American Studies

Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark, Nancy Cantor is recognized nationally and internationally for her leadership in emphasizing the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, especially by forging diverse, cross-sector collaboratives and leveraging publicly engaged scholarship to advance racial equity and equitable growth. At Rutgers University–Newark, a diverse, urban, public research university, she leads and promulgates efforts to leverage the university’s many strengths, particularly its exceptional diversity, tradition of high-impact research, and role as an anchor institution in Newark, New Jersey, through strategic investments. Chancellor Cantor lectures and writes extensively on the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, along with other crucial issues in higher education such as rewarding public scholarship, sustainability, liberal education and the creative campus, the status of women in the academy, and racial justice and diversity. Her thought is informed by broad leadership experience at all levels within public and private universities, as well as national and international organizations, positioning her as a sought after advisor and speaker on urban economic and community development.

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Friday, April 5, 2024

9:00 AM- Noon

Princeton's Inaugural Community-Engaged Research Institute 

Food Justice and Oral History

Location: Carl A. Fields Center

A gathering of academic and community scholar-practitioners to elevate outstanding community-engaged research, teaching, and mentored-undergraduate research focusing on The Heirloom Gardens Project, the institute provides a forum for exchanging knowledge, collaboration, and building coalitions rooted in rigorous scholarship and commitments to systems change. The gathering also serves as the launch of the 2024 Derian Summer Internship Program, a faculty-mentored, community-engaged undergraduate research program. 

Sponsored by the Derian Student Internship Fund, School of Public & International Affairs (SPIA), Princeton Humanities Council, Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research & Innovation, Princeton Food Project, Department of Anthropology

The Heirloom Gardens Oral History Project (HGP) is a collaboration of Princeton University, Spelman College, and the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance to collect oral histories of people who have worked to preserve Black and Indigenous seed and foodways throughout the Southeastern United States and Appalachia. It is currently funded by the Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation, an initiative of the Office of the Dean for Research at Princeton University. Working across six sites over two years, students and faculty will work with communities to interview and archive the stories of farmers, gardeners, chefs, community organizers, local historians and others who have been actively sustaining rich farming, culinary, and medicinal traditions. To date, HGP has collected over seventy interviews and is currently processing the files to be deposited in the oral history archive at Spelman College and hosted for public access by Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library. HGP is also developing a story corp training kit that Ujamaa and other community organizations can use to continue conducting oral histories for the project after the initial funding expires. HGP intends to continue its work in other regions of the country and to support collection and archiving of oral histories on this topic for years to come.

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For information regarding parking details for off-campus visitors visit the Transportation & Parking Services page

The deadline to request an accommodation is Friday, March 22.

Register via this form