Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster

F&M’s Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster (CSEwL) is a hub for generating rich and meaningful collaboration between F&M and our vibrant home county of Lancaster.

A Thriving Lancaster

CSEwL strives to regenerate the intellectual and social capital essential for a thriving Lancaster that sustains justice, equity, and communal well-being. By closely collaborating with faculty, we distinctly integrate F&M’s liberal arts education with community development to support new avenues of inquiry, initiatives, and research collaborations between F&M and the city and county. 

Many CSEwL projects become integral components of the F&M curriculum. Our professors often weave their ongoing projects into — and out of — the classroom, offering students valuable opportunities for hands-on learning while witnessing the impact these initiatives have on a real community.

Championing Positive Community Change

We offer funding and sabbatical opportunities for F&M faculty interested in research projects and programs that concentrate on three areas: poverty and social inequality, environmental sustainability, and social practice and community based art.

Poverty & Social Inequality

CSEwL research projects in poverty and social inequality acknowledge the problematic ways in which “poverty” is conceptualized, its functions in masking the operations of larger systems and structures that hold inequality and injustice in place, and the immediate stresses it places on individuals, households, and the social fabric more broadly.

Environmental Sustainability

Encompassing environmental, economic, and social interactions between humans and the environment, CSEwL research in environmental sustainability addresses environmental justice and relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes. 

Recent projects and initiatives include: 

  • Lancaster Compost Co-Op, an initiative enabling Lancaster residents to reduce household food waste by creating high-quality compost
  • Research studying Lancaster City’s rain gardens to maximize the mitigation of storm-water runoff
  • Surveys on the public’s response to government policies on issues such as tax-dollar investments in water quality and green infrastructure to address storm-water pollution management

Social Practice and Community-Based Art

Social practice and community-based art are two distinct but intersecting methods of working in and with a community. Rooted in empathetic collaboration, civic engagement, and critical discourse, both social practice and community-based art use art making as a vehicle for collaboration, communication, and problem solving. CSEwL’s mission is to collaborate with practitioners in the visual arts beyond traditionally understood “scholarship” and de-emphasize systemized forms of material production for social processes between and among people, and to advance social or political change. 

Recent projects and initiatives include: 

  • Emerging artist residency program
  • An on-campus art exhibit featuring works by local artists to reflect the struggle, promise and hope of migrants in Lancaster (Eric Hirsch, assistant professor of environmental studies, and his research partner, Amer Al-Fayadh, CEO of Communications Essentials)

Get Involved with CSEwL

Are you a Lancaster community member looking to connect with CSEwL? There are several ways you can get involved.

Community Leadership Award

The Community Leadership Award grants $15,000 to Lancaster County community leaders to implement four months-long projects focused on alleviating community issues and maximizing impact on all members of our diverse community.

Social Practice and Community Engagement Artist Residence Program

Emerging or mid-career artists from or currently residing, working or studying in Lancaster County, Pa., are invited to apply to CSEwL’s Social Practice and Community Engagement Artist Residency program. This program offers a stipend of $20,000 and an experience during which artists will have access to studio facilities at the Winter Visual Arts Center (WVAC) and other resources at F&M.

Recommend a New Project or Initiative

We partner with businesses, nonprofits, schools, and others to create meaningful learning and research collaborations for students, faculty, and staff. If you want to hire F&M talent, engage in research, or create a partnership that explores solutions to an intractable problem, we can help.

CSEwL in Action

June 21, 2023

Building Bridges With the City of Lancaster

Through Franklin & Marshall College's Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster (CSEwL), faculty and city administrators have explored and developed bridges for the shared community's...F&M and Lancaster recently celebrated several years of community projects through the Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster

February 28, 2023

Filmmaker Documents Artists With Disability

In his campus office, documentary filmmaker James Hollenbaugh, last fall's artist-in-residence at Franklin & Marshall College, discusses his artists with disability project that exhibits in March...Franklin & Marshall College offers students a hands-on education that emphasizes close relationships with faculty. Students flourish in a supportive community that treats them as an individual, and their successes continue long after F&M. The College is a national leader in launching students and alumni to opportunities where they make a difference in the community and the world.

November 11, 2022

F&M Compost Co-Op Diverts Costs and CO2 in Lancaster

A Franklin & Marshall College compost initiative has evolved into a co-op saving the City of Lancaster $5,215 per year — all while diverting 16,638 pounds of food waste from the solid-waste stream each month. The Lancaster Composting Co-Ops (LCC) are a volunteer-led, community initiative enabling Lancaster residents to reduce household food waste by creating high-quality compost. Three students spent their summer evaluating and co-authoring a white paper documenting the LCC's first year in terms of cost savings and social impact.