Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement at Hendrix

The ideals of Hendrix College’s Statement of Purpose are fostered from the moment students arrive on campus to the moment they graduate. With core support from a recently established Office for Community Partnerships, Hendrix College has a decentralized model of community engagement which allows for the organic development and implementation of a diverse array of partnerships, curricular and co-curricular, that serve both the public and our students. A series of longstanding programs also foster civic engagement work during students’ time at Hendrix and prepare them for a life of public service.

The Engaged Citizen

Students’ opportunities for “engagement that links the classroom with the world” for the promotion of “diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living” begin with the College’s distinctive first semester course The Engaged Citizen.  This seminar course seeks to illuminate the multiplicity of possible interpretations of engaging as a citizen through interdisciplinary team teaching, in which pairs of faculty from across the institution come together to explore a sub-topic from different methodological "ways of knowing." The course includes an engaged learning component, involving an introductory, hands‑on activity that engages academic material in or outside the classroom and is tied to the content of the course. The Engaged Citizen course sets the stage for Hendrix students to pursue their own pathways for civic engagement across their time at Hendrix.

Community Engaged Courses

Beyond the first-year-required The Engaged Citizen courses, a number of faculty incorporate community engaged learning opportunities into their regular courses. For example, a computer science professor uses his upper-level Databases and Web Systems course as a way for students to apply their knowledge and skills to real challenges. By pairing small groups of students with local nonprofits, the course gives students a chance to practice working as a team and interacting with a client by preparing a technological solution to a practical need of the organization.  

Odyssey Program

Each year, students complete civic engagement-related projects through the Odyssey program. From internships with elected officials in Washington or Little Rock, to the publication of undergraduate research projects on public policies, to examination of education systems in other nations, to periods of service with advocacy groups, Hendrix students dedicate innumerable hours of their lives each year to civic engagement. Through this work, our students come to better understand themselves and their communities. 

Odyssey Professorships, an extension of the Hendrix Odyssey Program, carry an endowment to support faculty projects that create new engaged learning opportunities for students. Individual faculty members or small groups of faculty members may apply on a competitive basis for the professorships. Many Odyssey Professorships include a community partnership element. 

Campus Kitty

Founded by the student body president in 1949, Campus Kitty is a student-run philanthropic organization that raises money and awareness through campus events for charitable organizations in central Arkansas. Members of the organization gain management experience through reviewing proposals from community organizations, making funding decisions, communicating with nonprofit partners, promoting those partners across campus, and organizing events. Campus Kitty has raised more than $118,000 over the past five years for a variety of community organizations.

Volunteer Action Committee

The Volunteer Action Committee is a student-led organization that organizes and leads volunteer and service projects throughout central Arkansas. Projects range from weekly Service Saturdays with various organizations to monthly dinner preparation at Bethlehem House, a transitional housing shelter, to regular one-on-one mentoring with 4th graders at Ida Burns Elementary School. VAC also takes the lead on special projects as need arises such as organizing a relief effort following a tornado that hit the nearby communities of Vilonia and Mayflower in 2014. 

Service Scholars

An extracurricular scholarship program of the Miller Center for Ethics, Vocation, and Calling, Service Scholars are students who have worked effectively and enthusiastically with volunteer projects during their junior and senior years in high school, commit to volunteering regularly while in college, and demonstrate a resolve to make leadership through service a part of their future. Service Scholars participate in a program with two components: community service and vocational reflection. 

Other Civic Engagement Projects

Through the Arkansas Policy Program, an undergraduate “think tank,” students conduct research and provide nonpartisan, original analyses of key public policy issues in the state. For example, students have partnered with the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Disability Rights Arkansas, and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel with research and reporting citizens’ perspectives on teacher recruitment and retention, reforms to the state’s Families in Need of Services program, and protecting safe drinking water in the state.

Talk Business and Politics is a Little Rock-based multi-media news outlet that covers business, politics, and culture across Arkansas. Since 2010, Talk Business and Politics founder Roby Brock and Hendrix politics professor Jay Barth have partnered on a polling project that surveys Arkansans’ views on candidates and issues. This partnership offers students the chance to contribute to the design, implementation, and analysis of surveys and offers Talk Business and Politics insightful, relevant, and expanded content for the public.

The Hendrix-in-Washington program is a partnership between Hendrix and the nonprofit Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Students in the program live and take classes in the Washington Center’s residential and learning complex. Students earn three academic credits for completing a 32-hour a week internship, a three-hour a week evening course organized by the Washington Center, and a weekly leadership seminar.

As a Project Pericles institution, the College’s commitment to active learning and civil dialogue is furthered through weekly forums on controversial issues. Pericles at Hendrix also engages alumni with current students through the Hendrix Alumni Doing Democracy project.

Hendrix is also one of the relatively few colleges and universities nationwide to offer the Peace Corps Prep certificate program. The program helps undergraduate students determine whether Peace Corps service is a suitable path for them and also prepares them for the Peace Corps application.

For more information on Civic Engagement at Hendrix, contact Dr. Jay Barth at or Sarah Donaghy (Coordinator of Community Partnerships) at