Working toward the good of the community has been a goal of public education since towns and regions began supporting community schools. Castleton supports the development of a civic-minded perspective toward our role in communities. Across the University, individuals and various groups alike enact civic engagement projects to create a reciprocal relationship between our university and community.
In the Education Department, we believe that gathering stories has the capacity to teach important and relevant skills that are also civic skills, such as question-asking, interviewing, active listening, and close observation of human behaviors. We also believe that storytelling promotes a public good and brings to light social issues that impact us all.
Therefore, to promote public good through storytelling, Castleton's Education Department has developed two recurring civic engagement projects. Across the Inquiry I and Inquiry II courses, education students come together to facilitate these projects.
Through these efforts, the department launched Vermont's first Human Library event. In this equality project 24 community members and students came together to act as books and share their unique stories to an audience who served as their readers. Education students played the role of both books and readers to promote the concept of community in this pilot event.
Additionally, the department and spring Inquiry class initiated a civic engagement project to honor the role of teachers in our lives. With support from the Vermont Folk Life Center, participants of the project choose, interview, and photograph a person who has influenced their life. At the culmination of the project, the photographs are displayed throughout Castleton's campus with a phone number linked to a recording of the individual's impact story.