By Kelsey Baker
Sarah Brackmann, the new Director of Civic Engagement, has high hopes for her time at the university. Her personal philosophy on social justice and civic engagement fuels the driving force behind her desire to work with the students and faculty of Southwestern.
“My main purpose is to encourage the learning that comes from civic engagement, to promote the understanding of the political, cultural, social and economic environment, and relating it to the community of Georgetown,” Brackmann said.
Brackmann’s plans include continuing the work of former director Suzy Pukys as well as assessing needs within the Georgetown community, while at the same time fostering a learning environment for students.
“The previous director really started to increase the volunteerism that was happening on campus and introduced this idea of civic engagement,” Brackmann said. “We’re at a place now to take it to the next step and figure out what that means.”
Brackmann’s office has begun work to expand the university’s civic engagement program to regularly include community-engaged learning within classes, as well as to increase individual volunteerism beyond the classroom. She has been working with professors in order to figure out how civic engagement can be incorporated into coursework so that it is used as a pedagogy, rather than in addition to regular class work.
“I think there are some good changes that are going on around the institution that will help with civic engagement so we can be more helpful and intentional in the work we’re doing,” Brackmann said.
So far, Brackmann has enjoyed her time at Southwestern.
“It just fits really well with my own educational philosophy. I didn’t go to a liberal arts college, but I went to a liberal arts like school, in that it focused on critical thinking and social justice,” Brackmann said.
Her interest in the school sprang from one of her colleagues in graduate school who was an alumnus of Southwestern.
“What he talked about in terms of the value and the culture and just the unique specialness of Southwestern kind of drew me into looking at this as a potential job opportunity,” Brackmann said. “I tell people, and I really do mean this, if every graduate of Southwestern is as awesome and amazing as [him] there’s something transformative going on here.”