What is Civic Engagement?
Civic engagement is at the heart of our mission as a university
At Drexel University, we believe it’s our moral and civic responsibility as a university to be a contributing member of the larger social fabric of our city and especially of our neighborhoods. Drexel has made a commitment to enhance the quality of life and increase economic stability in our community through a coordinated approach to align our practices as a university with the needs of our neighbors.
Drexel President John Fry has charged the entire university to align our core functions in an effort to fulfil the mission that Anthony Drexel set before us. The Office of University & Community Partnerships has a centralized coordinating role, supporting the civic engagement missions of our colleges and schools, and convening networks of partners around place based priorities.
We work to link Drexel’s academic mission to its vision of citizenship and service. We support opportunities for volunteer service and reflection for everyone in the Drexel community. And we are transforming how the University operates as business to emphasize local purchasing and hiring.
Our work to connect Drexel with community partners is anchored locally but also linked to Drexel’s global initiatives. As an anchor institution, we are in it for the long haul, and we are not doing this work alone: we pair a process of internal institutional transformation with the co-creation of high-impact community-based projects with strategic partners. In partnership with our neighbors, we focus on an interwoven set of priority investment areas: safety and sustainability, homeownership, retail and the arts, economic inclusion, health and wellness, and education.
Core Focus Areas
As a university we define ourselves in part by our work as an anchor institution, and we look to three pillars of civic engagement to guide our efforts:
- An academic and research mission that considers neighbors and partners
- The volunteer power of our students, faculty, and professional staff
- A commitment to local economic inclusion in our business operations
Drexel’s core mission is teaching and research, and we weave our commitment to collaborative partnership – from local to global – into that mission. Civic engagement is applied learning: it puts our students and researchers together with neighborhood partners here in West Philadelphia and with key partners around the world, building civic identities as they work together in creative collaboration around issues of shared importance. Colleges, schools, academic departments, and faculty around Drexel plug into the coordinating resources and partner networks that the Office of University & Community Partnership offers.
Local Economic Inclusion
Drexel has committed to a mission of local economic inclusion as an engaged anchor institution. That means we incorporate our campus neighbors into the ways we carry out our business operations. Drexel hires people, purchases goods and services, and builds and renovates its buildings and infrastructure. We have developed strategies to Hire Local, Buy Local, and Build Local, directing these necessary expenditures to invest in West Philadelphia.
Drexel’s Lindy Center for Civic Engagement serves as a hub for Drexel students and employees to find volunteer opportunities in the community. This can take many forms that align with each person’s passions — including helping at community gardens, working with an animal shelter, supporting a local child’s education as a tutor and mentor, protecting the environment, and fighting homelessness and hunger.
The Importance of Civic Engagement
We’re not just in the community, we’re a part of it.
That’s why Drexel is so committed to civic engagement: it’s in our DNA. Coming together to build bridges between our students, faculty and neighbors is built into our history, and is vital to our present as a collaborating partner with our neighbors and partner organizations.