The Pace Center for Civic Engagement

Monday, Apr 2, 2012

Teaching engineering using Lego's to kids in disadvantaged communities; building a community library that provides access to computers and books in an urban and challenged part of Ghana; creating a business plan to help people living in a landfill convert garbage to energy, and traveling to Karachi, Pakistan, to put help residents put the plan into action.

These are just some of the service projects conceived and carried out by Princeton students with the support of the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. The Center supports community service participation, entrepreneurial initiative and leadership by undergraduate students as well as the entire Princeton community, including graduate students, faculty, staff and alumni.

In 2010-2011, the Pace Center offered more than 1,680 opportunities for civic engagement. Nearly two-thirds of undergraduate seniors at Princeton reported participating in community service by their senior year, breathing life into the University's informal motto, "In the nation's service, and in the service of all nations."

 Princeton Office of Communications)Learn more about the civic engagement experience. Download the Pace Center brochure.

At Princeton, civic engagement has direct ties to research and scholarship. As part of their graduation requirements, all students conduct research and write a senior thesis. Civic engagement offers the opportunity to generate new knowledge that can be published or otherwise disseminated, advancing the scholarship in areas ranging from sociology to engineering.

Areas of need are grouped into five thematic areas: promoting sustainability, strengthening communities, advancing education, enhancing social justice and developing innovative solutions to global challenges.

When engaging in civic service, students communicate with community leaders to identify areas of need and develop solutions. The Pace Center encourages the development of students as leaders who pose creative ideas and carry out their vision while working in collaboration with their constituencies to achieve results.

The Pace Center offers a variety of ways to interact with communities in need. These range from organized activities, such as the student-proposed and led  Breakout Princeton community-immersion trips intended to expand student horizons and explore concepts in service, to Create-Your-Own summer internships, which encourage an entrepreneurial approach to finding and developing  community-based service projects. Additional opportunities include post-graduate fellowships with public interest organizations, summer internships with nonprofits and NGOs, weekly volunteer opportunities with local community organizations, student-run organizations, and participation in established programs such as the Prison Teaching Initiative.

myPace offers a searchable list of volunteer opportunitiesEffective April 2, 2012, the director of the Pace Center is Kimberly de los Santos, who has led community outreach initiatives for the last 10 years at Arizona State University.

"Civic engagement is really about making a difference in our communities," said de los Santos. "The Pace Center is a resource for students, faculty, staff and partners to develop the knowledge, skills, network and motivation to make that difference. The biggest reward for many of us, in whatever discipline we’re in, is being able to enhance somebody else’s quality of life. That feeling, and the societal impact that effort can make, is invaluable; and this generation of students wants to enable change that lasts beyond a single interaction. This generation of students wants to enable change that is sustainable and that empowers communities to continue to advance their own well-being."

Explore to find opportunities for civic engagement.