The mission of the Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL) is to institutionalize curriculum-based civic engagement.
CCBL’s civic engagement approach, based on community organizing practices, aims to enrich students' learning and commitment to social responsibility. CCBL brings together students, faculty, and community partners as co-thinkers and collaborators in addressing social justice issues.
Since its creation in 2001, CCBL has developed resources and provided leadership to institutionalize community based learning at Occidental College. The goal of community based learning is to enhance student learning and faculty engagement by connecting academic study and civic education through reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationships with the greater community. CCBL also collaborates with other offices on campus, as well as state, national, and international networks.
The Community Based Learning and Research (CBLR) faculty committee focuses on enhancing curriculum-connected community engagement and community based research.
To learn about the history of CCBL, we recommend the article "Community Organizing Practices in Academia: A Model, and Stories of Partnerships," published by the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Vol. 14, No. 2, June 2010. It was written by the one of the co-founders of the CCBL, Maria Avila, Ph.D. We also recommend the book Putting the Local in Global Education: Models for Transformative Learning Through Domestic Off-Campus Programs with an article co-authored by Celestina Castillo, director of the CCBL from 2013-2020.
Examples of Our Work
Co-curated by Occidental Associate Professor of Art and Art History Nancy Mithlo, this historic exhibition was presented in the same space where the photos were taken over 40 years ago and shares a story of hope, community and resilience of America’s first and often forgotten people. United American Indian Involvement (UAII) was established in 1974 to provide shelter, food, and a welcoming place for American Indians living on the streets of Skid Row, the result of the federal relocation program (1956-79) that encouraged them to leave their homes on reservations to move to urban areas in hopes of better opportunities for jobs and education. UAII is now the largest one-stop provider of human services for American Indian/Alaskan Native families and youth living in Los Angeles County. Download the full "People's Home" exhibition catalog.
CCBL has a long-term commitment to this archiving project and our ongoing partnership with UAII. This work adds to the Occidental curriculum. Students have an opportunity to learn skills in archival creation, methodologies, and approaches, as well as engage community members and contribute to this amazing project. In addition to CCBL, numerous other departments and organizations at Occidental have contributed funds, time, and expertise towards the success of the project. A special thanks to the Special Collections and College Archives, the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles, the Center for Digital Liberal Arts, Oxy Arts, Media Arts and Culture Department, History Department, Urban and Environmental Policy Department, the student Diversity and Equity Board, and the Undergraduate Research Center. We greatly appreciate all the support from all the students, faculty, and staff who have contributed to this ongoing project.