Center for the Advancement of Public Action

The Challenge

Problems proliferate. From income inequality to climate change, from failing schools to failed states, from exiled histories to foreclosed futures, our present is beset by challenges. Many of these entrenched and emergent problems seem just beyond the scope of a liberal arts education. What might it mean to more directly orient the liberal arts around these complex problems, not just in contemplation of them but with a deliberate aim to intervene in them? How can artists, scholars, and scientists collaborate and contribute to finding effective solutions to these problems? How can the classroom be expanded to foster new linkages between thought and action, the classroom and the outside world? What new insights and capacities are now needed to enact meaningful change?

The Response

The Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) at Bennington College responds to the urgent problems of our current world, discovers what one needs to know to understand them, and acts to implement solutions. Rooted in the liberal arts with a commitment to public action, CAPA teaches the essential capacities needed to develop an educated and emboldened citizenry. Through initiatives and curriculum, CAPA leverages the classroom as a new kind of studio for innovation and informed change. With engaged scholarship, community partnerships, and creative problem-solving strategies that draw on the skills of conflict resolution, complex systems analysis, and research and design, CAPA addresses the issues of our time from a novel vantage point: action.

Upcoming Events

CAPA Newsletter

The CAPA Newsletter is a student-run project with the mission of developing the CAPA community.
Subscribe here if you'd like this monthly publication delivered to your inbox. 

April 2017     |     May 2017     |     June 2017     |     September 2017     |     October 2017

 

CAPA Initiatives

CAPA Initiatives are multi-year programs that respond to urgent problems in the world. The goal of CAPA Initiatives is to build publics—communities of interest and involvement—around pressing concerns. These initiatives creatively assemble the resources of Bennington College around a specific issue and connect them to external stakeholders and organizations. This includes courses from across disciplines at the college; extracurricular and Field Work Term opportunities for students; trainings and workshops for local and college community members; curated exhibitions and engaged social practices in art; conferences that convene stakeholders and advance new solutions; and publications or programs that extend the work of CAPA Initiatives into wider audiences. CAPA Initiatives are designed in collaboration with local, national, and/or international groups and result in public action to foster better infrastructure, enable and create sustainable design, and to promote human rights.

Activating Democracy

Educating students on what it means to participate in a democracy by understanding and engaging with our governance systems.

Art in the Public Realm

Supporting artists as change agents through the vital role they play in shaping thriving and sustainable communities.

Environment and Public Action

Building healthy environments through developing and enhancing sustainable water, energy, and food systems.

Human Rights and Peacebuilding

Working to resolve conflict, build peace, and establish a just and equitable society through local, national, and global partnerships.

Progressive Education

Using the Bennington Plan Process as a model to help the community youth gain ownership of their educational path.

izzy mozer graphic

By Izzy Mozer '19

Prison Education Initiative img
Prison Education Initiative
PFOA building
Understanding PFOA
Quantum Leap img
Quantum Leap
Oslo Img 1
Art in Embassies—Oslo Project
CAPA Leadership Institute img
CAPA Leadership Institute
Vermont Legislative Series img
Public Policy Forums @ CAPA
GANAS img
GANAS
Student hanging flyer about LEDs on door
LED Project
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Bennington College Incarceration Taskforce (BCIT)
Paran Creek Dam
Paran Creek Dam
The Prison Education Initiative is a collaboration of CAPA, New York State, and Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY. More
In 2014, the chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (C8 or PFOA) was discovered in the drinking water in the Village of Hoosick Falls, NY... More
Since 1999, Quantum Leap has reconnected over 2,000 students to their education. More
Bennington students, working in collaboration with the State Department's Art in Embassies program, are creating a public artwork... More
The CAPA Leadership Institute is founded on the premise that the most effective solutions for sustainably resolving conflicts emerge out of... More
This series invites guest speakers from the private and public sectors to address a range of important topics in the current national dialogue... More
Born out of student response to community need, supported and informed by study with faculty, GANAS brings... More
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are increasingly used in streetlights in the US and around the world... More
The BCIT is a nonpartisan, evidence-based student group looking to increase public safety in Vermont by implementing smart-on-crime reforms. More
The mission of the Paran Creek Watershed Project is to support the Village of North Bennington’s long term stewardship of renewable water resources... More

CAPA News

oil tankers parked on train tracks in north bennington Context and Concerns

The Bennington Banner published an op-ed by faculty member and Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action David Bond, which gave context and concerns to the subject of the oil train now parked near residential areas in North Bennington. 

Vice Leading a New Age of Activism

Bennington’s Incarceration Taskforce was featured in a recent Vice piece on student advocacy groups that “could lead a new age of activism.”

CAPA Lens 9th Annual Incarceration in America Conference Focuses on Outcomes and New Directions

Bennington College’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) hosted a conference on The Future of Higher Education in Prison on April 28-29, the ninth annual convening that forms part of the College’s  Incarceration in America initiative, a project established formally in 2014 to address the fact that the U.S. prison population has increased 400% in the past forty years.

Bennington College is awarded an NSF grant to expand work on PFOA NSF Awards Bennington College Grant to Expand Study of PFOA

Bennington College Faculty Members David Bond, Janet Foley, and Tim Schroeder have been awarded a $300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to deepen and expand the College’s response to PFOA contamination in New York and Vermont.

Dickinson science building “We Are Still In”

Bennington College President Mariko Silver recently joined mayors, governors, other leaders in higher education, businesses, and investors in declaring, via an open letter, that they will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.

Volatile Futures Conference CAPA Conference Ties Science and Politics

The Volatile Futures/Earthly Matters Conference at Bennington this spring brought together leading scholars from across the country to examine questions related to climate change and other environmental policy debates that are currently playing out on both national and global stages.

Conference Introduces Students to Water Challenges, Solutions Conference Introduces Students to Water Challenges, Solutions

The inaugural Taconic Mountain Student Water Conference: PFOA took place in CAPA on Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20. Co-organized by David Bond (Bennington) and Ken Facin (Hoosick Falls Central School Distrct), Friday's events were geared towards educating local high students, while Saturday's were open to the public. The second day of the conference provided an opportunity for residents of both the Bennington area and Hoosick Falls to receive updated information and the results from recent tests. Robert Bilott, who spearheaded efforts to expose PFOA contamination of drinking water supplies, gave the keynote speech. 

ANR meeting on PFOA Vermont ANR Community Meeting on PFOA

Bennington College hosted a public meeting on PFOA on Thursday, April 27, 2017. At this meeting, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) updated the community about ongoing negotiations with Saint Gobain and reviewed the state’s current analysis of the nature and scope of PFOA contamination in our region. ANR Secretary Julie Moore applauded the “very active” work of Bennington College in responding to this nearby environmental problem.

Bennington College faculty David Bond and Tim Schroeder also provided an update of their ongoing research into PFOA in our environment.

Grace Initiative U.N. Delegates Discuss International Women’s Issues in CAPA

Bennington’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) hosted a talk by two United Nations delegates on women's empowerment and the changing role of women in the workplace.

Bill Scully hydropower project Led by Scully '94, Students Propose Local Hydropower Projects

Hydropower developer Bill Scully ’94 is working with Bennington students on two new power generation projects in the village of North Bennington.

CAPA

CAPA courtyard
State-of-the-Art

CAPA is housed in a state-of-the-art facility designed by award-winning architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. It blends the studio of the artist, the laboratory of the scientist, the think tank of the policymaker, and the town square of the citizen.

What kind of world ARE we making? What kind of world SHOULD we be making? What kind of world CAN we be making? – Elizabeth Coleman, President Emeritus, founding director of CAPA