Call to Action

Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy was asked by Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes if there was anything he would like to change about TED, on which he had recently appeared. His response was a call to action for the listeners— “I think the challenge is getting people who consume all of this wonderful stuff that TED provides to not just be consumers, but take what they learn and know and hear and turn it into some kind of action that may be a little uncomfortable, that may be a little inconvenient, but will absolutely be transformative to making these great ideas really ideas that are not only spread but create a greater world.”

Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility is Rensselaer’s call to action. The Rensselaer mission— “to apply science to the common purposes of life” has inspired students for almost 200 years, and Rensselaer alumni have made remarkable contributions over time to the world. The CESR Certificate Program provides a roadmap for students to become more civically engaged and socially responsible through directed participation in a variety of curricular and co-curricular activities. The CESR pathways lead to more civically engaged and socially responsible students who are prepared to impact policy on pressing global problems and confidently answer the call “Why not change the world.”

Rensselaer students have the opportunity to answer the call to action by earning Rensselaer’s Certificate of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility. They will be guided in their efforts through the tenants of the Rensselaer CLASS program. They will choose among 5 pathways to become more civically engaged and socially responsible — Leadership Development, Professional Development, Cultural Development, Campus Community, and Communiversity — each of which provides a roadmap of possible curricular and co-curricular activities across the Rensselaer landscape.

The CESR program is designed to support each student’s passion to address local issues and to ultimately impact global challenges related to food, water, and energy security; global and national security; human health, climate change, and the allocation of scarce natural resources. Each journey of personal development will be unique, based on his or her exploration and engagement. Over the course of the Rensselaer experience, students will be encouraged to extend the depth of their participation using knowledge gained and interests developed over time and to explain aspects of what they have done through electronic blogging and journal entries. The student will take the final step of the journey by completing their guided portfolio and sharing what they have learned through a capstone project. At graduation they will receive their certificate, indicating that they have gained the knowledge and experience through their CESR journey to be able to impact policy to create a greater world.