Civic Engagement

New College’s proud tradition of civic engagement reaches back to its founding. Today’s New College students carry on that tradition through active involvement in local, state, national, and even international communities.


Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program

New College coordinates a statewide civic program called the Jean O’Connor-Snyder Internship Program (JOIP) that gives students hands-on experience addressing community concerns. In addition to students from UA, students from Auburn University, Stillman College, the University of Montevallo, Troy University, the University of South Alabama, Alabama A&M, and Tuskegee University have also participated in the JOIP.

Walker County Internship Program

One of New College’s premier civic engagement projects, the Walker County Internship Program, is part of the JOIP. Every summer New College interns live and work in Walker County, a rural community about 60 miles north of Tuscaloosa. Working closely with the Walker Area Community Foundation, UA interns learn first-hand the challenges and benefits of joining their talents and resources with those of community partners. True to the premise that strong, collaborative relationships are crucial to effect social change, students immerse themselves in their surroundings, living, working, and socializing in the community as they engage issues identified by local nonprofits and the WACF.

For more information, contact John Miller at or (205) 348-4600.

Partnerships with Other Organizations

For students seeking a different kind of civic engagement experience, New College maintains a number of relationships with organizations and community partners seeking to make lasting change happen in communities.

Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center

New College and UA students and faculty have donated their time and expertise to the Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center, whose purpose is to commemorate the memories of the nine young men known as the “Scottsboro Boys,” wrongfully accused, improperly tried, and falsely convicted of raping two white women in 1930s Alabama. Students helped to design the museum’s website and some of its promotional materials. And New College faculty, Dr. Ellen Griffith Spears and Prof. John Miller, were instrumental in obtaining exonerations and posthumous pardons for the Scottsboro defendants.

Schoolyard Roots

The Schoolyard Roots is another local program popular with New College students that focuses on school-age children in the greater Tuscaloosa area. The program’s mission is to establish and use sustainable teaching gardens at area schools as part of a hands-on math and science curriculum. Another way the gardens are used is to give children opportunities to sell produce at local farmers’ markets to teach valuable lessons in entrepreneurship.

Sawyerville Day Camp

New College students also have done civic engagement work in communities in Alabama’s Black Belt, which lies some 40 miles south of Tuscaloosa. For example, New College students have worked with the Sawyerville Day Camp, a free day camp run all summer long in Hale County Alabama. The camp provides children with activities and field trips and their parents with much-needed day-care for school-age children.

Students in Amanda Espy-Brown's Cooperation and Conflict (NEW 237) volunteer at Wings of Hope. 
Students in Cooperation and Conflict (NEW 237) participate in a service-learning project at Wings of Hope.

Project Horseshoe Farm

Another Black Belt resource is Project Horseshoe Farm, a non-profit that aims to better the lives of children, seniors, and the mentally disabled in Hale County. In addition to providing tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment programs for area children, Project Horseshoe Farm provides community programs and housing options for mentally disabled community members and older residents of the County.

Service Learning

New College even uses civic engagement as a teaching tool by incorporating service-learning activities in many of its seminars. For example, Cooperation and Conflict, a popular seminar available for honors (NEW 238) and regular (NEW 237) UA credit, uses service-learning hours at local schools and with local nonprofits to give students hands-on experience collaborating with community members and students. Working to help community partners and schools with projects they identify is a key component of bringing together academic expertise and citizen know-how.

Students taking New 236 (Organic Gardening) work with the Schoolyard Roots to advance its mission of establishing sustainable gardens at local schools.