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
Incarceration TaskForce img
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

Rio Olympics logo Ibarra Collaborates at Rio Olympics

Musician and faculty member Susie Ibarra is working with David Hertz, a Brazilian chef and a World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader, around the launch of Refettorio Gastromotiva, a food and cultural center that will repurpose 12 tons of food from the Olympics to turn it into nutritious meals for the neediest of Rio.

incarceration in america logo Women's Community Justice Project

Panel Discussion

Date | Saturday, September 17, 2016
Time | 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Location | Bennington College, CAPA Symposium
Registration | Free and open to the public
Contact | capa@bennington.edu

Bennington Selected to Participate in Dept of Ed’s Second Chance Pell Pilot Program img Bennington Selected to Participate in Dept of Ed’s Second Chance Pell Pilot Program

The Department of Education announced today that Bennington College was among the colleges and universities selected from a competitive national pool to participate in the Second Chance Pell pilot program.

Will Buchanan '16 shares his research with DEC commissioner Alyssa Schuren Meeting Held to Update the Community on PFOA Information, Research

On Wednesday, June 29, the Vermont state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hosted a community meeting at Bennington College to discuss the ongoing PFOA issue in the region. David Bond, associate director of CAPA and principal investigator of the College's research on PFOA, provided an update on the work thus far.

Redefining Justice poster Incarceration in America: Redefining Justice

Spring 2016 Conference

Dates | May 6–7, 2016
Location | Bennington College, CAPA Symposium
Registration | Free and open to the public
Contact | capa@bennington.edu

David Bond Talks to VPR About NSF-Sponsored Class on PFOA Bond Speaks About Class On PFOA

David Bond, associate director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action, spoke with Vermont Public Radio about a course being taught at Bennington College about PFOA. 

National Public Radio Foley Speaks with NPR about PFOA

Faculty member Janet Foley recently spoke with NPR about about PFOA. She, David Bond, and Tim Schroeder are teaching a course beginning next week.

DEC Community Meeting, Governor Shulmin Governor Shumlin Updates Community on PFOA

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin hosted a community meeting at Bennington College with nearby residents of North Bennington.

WAMC radio Faculty Members Speak about PFOA Research

David Bond, Tim Schroeder, and Janet Foley spoke with WAMC about the research into PFOA.

Bond, Foley, and Schroeder Speak with WRGB About PFOA Research Bond, Foley, and Schroeder Speak with WRGB About PFOA Research

Faculty members David Bond, Janet Foley, and Tim Schroeder spoke about the upcoming work on the NSF-funded research into PFOA. 

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