Central College News

Central and Collegiate Church launch social justice internship program in New York City

October 30, 2013

Internship opportunities with a social justice focus in an urban setting will soon be available to Central College students through a unique partnership with The Collegiate Church of New York.

A pilot program, supported by a grant from the Collegiate Church, will provide for up to 10 summer internships for students from Central College and cooperating schools from the college’s study abroad programs.

The internships will combine academic coursework and social justice training with an internship in an arena supported by the four congregational-based ministries of the Collegiate Church—Fort Washington, Marble, Middle and West End churches—as well as with Intersections International. Collegiate Church describes Intersections as “a multi-cultural, multi-faith, global initiative dedicated to building respectful relationships among diverse individuals and communities to forge common ground and develop strategies that promote justice, reconciliation and peace.”

“Collegiate Church is honored to be the conduit for Central College’s upcoming internship program in New York City,” said Robert Chase, founding director of Intersections International. Chase is an award-winning video producer and an ordained minister. “It is more than symbolic that Central, a small liberal arts college in Iowa, seeks to inform and inspire a new generation of leaders by offering them a New York experience. The Collegiate Church, building on its historic ties to Central, welcomes this partnership as a way of sharing its commitment to diversity and social justice with students from the nation’s heartland.”

Founded in 1628, the Collegiate Church has established programs for community building, advocacy and outreach. Like Central, the Collegiate Church has historic ties to the Reformed Church in America. The partnership is a natural fit, according to Central’s Mary Strey, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty.

“There is a strong alignment between the missions of the college and the Collegiate Church, not only in their common connection to the RCA, but also present in the values they share which are embodied in their initiatives that affirm diversity and difference, promote open dialogue, and support economic and social justice,” she said.

Summer experience—Two Central faculty members will teach the program’s inaugural course in New York City next summer. Students will explore a variety of perspectives related to peace and social justice while learning about the dynamics of social change. Guest speakers involved in social justice work will be featured and students will also take advantage of learning opportunities throughout the city.

The internships will complement Central’s nationally recognized programs for community-based learning and study abroad. More than 75 percent of Central students complete an internship or pre-professional experience at sites in Iowa, Chicago or Washington, D.C., or at one of the college’s study abroad sites, and many participate in service-learning work connected to their academic study. Nearly half of Central students study at one of the college’s international programs, most for a semester.

“We are deeply grateful to the Collegiate Church for making these remarkable internship opportunities possible and for the ongoing partnership with Central College,” Strey said. “As interns in social justice-related organizations in New York City, students will have the ability to reflect thoughtfully on their experiences, make connections with the course material and understand their own potential as agents for positive social change.”

Intersections International on campus–Six Intersections staff members, including Chase, are in residence at Central this week. “Welcome the Stranger” is the theme for the week’s activities, which include a dialogue between central Iowa military veterans and civilians, intended as a community-building and social healing exercise.