Advancement of Public Action

Student as citizen

International conflict and leadership, the environment, incarceration reform, a regenerative economy, an educated and emboldened citizenry—imagine an education where the world's most urgent issues are your subject matter and doing something about them is your aim.

Through coursework and fieldwork, students develop capacities essential to taking effective action in the world, whether that means identifying stakeholders and building coalitions and collaborations, honing problem-solving skills, learning the techniques of effective mediation, understanding how to effect policy decisions by lawmakers, or the myriad other components of making meaningful change in the world.

In these efforts, students work with faculty who defy categorization, people who draw on Bennington's deep artistic and analytic resources to collaborate with public and private organizations and leverage the classroom as a new kind of laboratory for creative problem-solving—work that converges in the Center for the Advancement of Public Action.

At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of the College's resources both inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work. 

Courses

Advancement of Public Action courses are designed to help you to define critical social issues in all their complexity, unpack key concepts, and hone your capacity to drive positive, lasting, and systemic change.

Alumni

Bennington has always built deep connections between doing and knowing, action and reflection, the classroom and the world. Our alumni have long put that spirit into practice, playing leading roles.

Andrea Dworkin '68
Andrea Dworkin '68
Gay Johnson McDougall '69
Gay Johnson McDougall '69
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan '73
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan '73
Jess Kutch '03
Jess Kutch '03
Jennifer Mieres '82
Jennifer Mieres '82
Bryn Mooser '01
Bryn Mooser '01
Kay Crawford Murray '56
Kay Crawford Murray '56
Elizabeth Pfister '43
Elizabeth Pfister '43
Victoria Sammartino '99
Victoria Sammartino '99
Elizabeth Swados '73
Elizabeth Swados '73
Ellen Taussig '66
Ellen Taussig '66
Ujwal Thapa '00
Ujwal Thapa '00
Elinor Bacon
Elinor Bacon '63
Gale Brewer
Gale Brewer '73
Judith Butler '78
Judith Butler '78
August de los Reyes
August de los Reyes '95
Alison Dennis
Alison Dennis '94
Andrea Dworkin '68

Feminist writer whose work was a lightning rod for the debate on pornography and censorship in the United States

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Gay Johnson McDougall '69

First United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues and former executive director of Global Rights

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Princess Yasmin Aga Khan '73

Leading American philanthropist and fierce advocate for research into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Jess Kutch '03

Cofounder of Change.org and Coworker.org, transforming the way workers in today’s economy organize

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Jennifer Mieres '82

Cardiologist and advocate for women’s health, heart disease prevention, and diversity in healthcare

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Bryn Mooser '01

Co-founder of RYOT News and Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose work fuses social justice activism with virtual reality technology

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Kay Crawford Murray '56

Trailblazing attorney who has spent a career working to highlight issues of gender bias in the legal profession

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Elizabeth Pfister '43

Pilot who learned to fly during her freshman year at Bennington, graduated early to become a WASP in World War II, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2010

Victoria Sammartino '99

Founder of Voices UnBroken, a nonprofit dedicated to giving vulnerable young people opportunity for creative self-expression

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Elizabeth Swados '73

Composer, writer, and director who fashioned a unique style of socially engaged musical theatre

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Ellen Taussig '66

Founder and former head of school of the Northwest School who has been recognized as a Changemaker by Global Washington for her current work as executive director of the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia

Ujwal Thapa '00

Founder of Bibeksheel Nepali, a populist political party​ founded in the wake of Nepal’s 2015 earthquake

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Elinor Bacon '63

Former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Gale Brewer '73

Borough president of the New York City borough of Manhattan who formerly served as a member of the New York City Council and as director of the Office of Federal Relations in the Dinkins administration, among her other positions in a long career of public service

Judith Butler '78

Author of Gender Trouble, one of the most important works of philosophy and gender theory of the postmodern era

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August de los Reyes '95

Principal design director for Xbox who is implementing a radical vision for Microsoft

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Alison Dennis '94

Leader in the development of sustainable business models, brands, and social movements

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