Penn State Brandywine hosts inaugural Social Justice Fair

MEDIA, Pa. — Penn State Brandywine’s Laboratory for Civic and Community Engagement (CIVCM) recently hosted a four-day Social Justice Fair on campus, featuring various events and activities throughout the week that encouraged campus and neighboring community members to be more thoughtful, active and informed citizens of the world.

Since its founding, the CIVCM Lab has integrated civic and community engagement into Penn State Brandywine’s academic curricula, extracurricular activities and campus culture, exposing students, faculty and staff to complex issues and ideas in dynamic ways. The campus also offers its students a minor in civic and community engagement.

“The heart of this lab is to engage students, faculty and staff from all disciplines in service to others,” said Lynn Hartle, director of the laboratory for civic and community engagement and professor of education. “We connect our campus with community partners in collaborative efforts to make a positive impact in the local-to-international community.”

Each day of the Social Justice Fair had a designated theme, giving attendees a broader understanding of the different ways they could become an engaged citizen.

Day one’s theme, “Democracy and Civic Engagement,” featured a presentation from members of the local Democratic and Republican parties who shared their insights about being politicians. A voter registration station was also included at the event, encouraging students to register to vote in the upcoming elections.

“Responsible Consumerism” was day two’s theme. Members from Transition Town Media, fair trade representatives and local business owners spoke about ways to integrate responsible business relationships into the community and explained how being a responsible consumer creates positive change, not only in local communities, but globally.

Also during day two, students presented action projects to the campus community and outside guests during a poster session. The projects highlighted a relevant course topic or theme of interest from a social justice perspective.

Day three’s theme was “Arts as Social Activism” and featured a display by Philadelphia-based sculptor Roger Wing, who created an ice sculpture that raised awareness about gun violence on college campuses and beyond.

Ice Sculpture

As part of Brandywine’s Social Justice Fair, sculptor Roger Wing visited campus and created a work of art to raise awareness about gun violence on college campuses and beyond

Credit: Michael McDade

Ricardo Rivera, founding director of Klip Collective of Philadelphia that created Longwood Gardens’ "Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience," also spoke to the campus community about artistic social activism.

“Human Rights” was day four’s theme and featured a presentation from Carol Metzker, author of “Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery.” Metzker spoke about what human trafficking and modern slavery looks like in southeastern Pennsylvania.

“Students who step back and recognize through their service that they are ‘more than themselves’ become the citizens that make up stronger and more involved communities in the United States and around the world,” said Hartle.