Civic Engagement Minor



Cornell College student participates in a Cornell Fellowship at the Obama Foundation

A minor focused on others

Being civically engaged means building your compassion, critical thinking, and collaboration skills as you work to better your community. Ninety-two percent of business leaders believe volunteering expands an employee’s professional skill set.

Cornell College student participates in the Student Senate

Civic engagement minor at Cornell

By pursuing the civic engagement minor at Cornell, you can help implement change in corporate America, in the local economy, in rural and remote regions, in busy urban spaces, or on a much wider global scale—wherever your passion for change leads you. Being civically engaged requires a deeper understanding of the world around you and a drive to improve it.

Coursework for this minor is interdisciplinary and is designed to help you become a more thoughtful and informed citizen of the world. You’ll study ethics, political systems, social issues, and public scholarship and policy. Plus, you will make a real impact on the community through volunteering and immersive projects.

This is what it means to be a changemaker at Cornell.

Experiential learning through civic engagement


Take action with service learning opportunities

Through coursework and community involvement, you will achieve an increased awareness of society's challenging problems. Want to work hands-on with your community? You’ll have the opportunity to gain direct experience working with a local organization, progressing from learning about social problems to actively working toward a resolution. In fact, in a typical year at Cornell, more than 650 students volunteer 15,000 hours for community service, most of it locally, for a value of $428,100. There are many ways to get involved.

Our distinctive block plan structure will enable you to experience aspects of civic engagement and service learning that are outside the reach of undergraduates at colleges on a traditional semester plan. You can even use civic engagement coursework to complete an Ingenuity in Action project. Experiential learning means you meet people working in the real world on issues you care about. In other words, you aren’t anchored to just reading about policy and its impact—you will see it firsthand.


Course and degree requirements

Your coursework for the civic engagement minor will develop hands-on skills and foster critical thinking about the world around you. You will need to take a minimum of six course credits, including:

  • Three core courses
  • One course in critical-thinking/research methods
  • One course concerned with efforts to address societal issues
  • One course in applied civic engagement
  • A minimum of 25 noncredit hours of civic engagement involvement over the course of at least two semesters, including volunteering, activism, and other civic engagement opportunities

Course catalog

Alumni support Tanzania Water Projects

Three Cornell College alumni talk about how they're involved with bringing clean water resources to Tanzania, and how people there are using their water resources to create a future for their families and their communities.

Alumni Support Tanzania Water Projects from Cornell College on Vimeo.

Experiences that make an impact

Your experiences volunteering and working with the community will serve you throughout your lifetime. These opportunities are constructed to hone your critical-thinking, collaboration, and communication skills—skills highly valued by employers across industries. They are also a great way to gain hands-on experience. In recent years, four students served on the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Emergency Medical Services team, and two students volunteered with the Mount Vernon Fire Department. Additionally, nearly 20 students provide weekly tutoring at Mount Vernon Middle School.

That’s why 82% of business leaders are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience, because they know they are gaining highly valued employees who can think through challenges and know how to implement actions that work toward a solution.

Civic engagement degree options

You will be eligible to earn a minor in civic engagement. This minor is complementary to any major program at Cornell, including our environmental science and sustainability major, or our race, ethnicity, and social justice major.

Browse major options.

Alondra Jazmin (AJ) Granados-Diaz

B.A. in sociology and anthropology with a minor in civic engagement

“Before I started my college journey, I did not know if I was going to make it because I had absolutely no guidance. After dipping my toes in the water, I realized how much I was capable of. These achievements are trails of my hard work and the beginning of my journey to become an immigration attorney.”

Read more about Alondra's college journey

Civic Engagement News