The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement brings Colby students and faculty together to make connections between work in the classroom and contemporary political, economic, social, and environmental issues. Founded in 2003 with a generous gift from Colby Trustee William Goldfarb ’68, P’00, the center aims to link the Colby community with local, state, national, and international leaders to explore creative, interdisciplinary approaches to complex challenges.

The Goldfarb Center strives to make a vital difference in the lives and educational experience of Colby students. Through hundreds of events featuring world leaders, innovative thinkers, influential politicians, and cutting-edge academics, the center has set a high standard for public affairs programming at a liberal arts institution. The establishment of significant programs for children and others in central Maine demonstrates the center’s commitment to meaningful community engagement, while at the same time offering students a means to harness their own passions for involvement. Through research grants, internship opportunities, and course development stipends, the center contributes to the intellectual life of the College in varied, significant ways.

Among much else, the Goldfarb Center aspires to

  • Become a national leader in public affairs programming.
  • Confront salient, difficult issues to reveal complexities, implications, and answers.
  • Create and support unique initiatives for the betterment of the Colby community and for the advancement of others in central Maine and beyond.
  • Serve as a resource for individuals and civic groups working for the improvement of our democracy.
  • Be a reliable resource of information and expertise for those doing similar work and for regional and national media outlets.

Public Affairs Programming

The Goldfarb Center brings prominent and influential scholars and policymakers to campus each year to discuss and debate global events as they unfold. High profile events such as the Senator George J. Mitchell Distinguished International Lecture Series bring to campus leaders spanning the fields of political science, professional media, and international affairs. Public affairs programming also includes a regular schedule of panels, dinners, lectures, conferences, and film screenings, providing students and faculty with many opportunities to network and share ideas.

Civic Engagement

Over half of the Colby student body is actively engaged in civic engagement activities coordinated through the Goldfarb Center. The student-run Colby Volunteer Center (CVC) coordinates volunteer work of more than 300 students who serve in local organizations. The CVC also organizes special projects including Colby Cares Day, a city-wide day of service. Approximately 30 courses have civic engagement components through which students work with organizations whose missions are connected to and inform material
learned in class.

The Goldfarb Center directs several of the College’s most comprehensive educational outreach programs, touching the lives of countless students in K-12 schools throughout central Maine. Founded in 2001, Colby Cares About Kids (CCAK) is a program run by the Goldfarb Center. CCAK pairs Colby students (mentors) and local children in grades K-8 (mentees) to promote academic and social success. The Maine Concussion Management Initiative (MCMI) is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the safety of Maine’s youth by increasing awareness and education on concussion management. MCMI is a pioneer in concussion research and education outreach in the state of Maine, and its impact across New England is expanding.

Research and Scholarship

Through grants awarded over the course of the year, the center encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary research among faculty members and students as well as innovative student research. Participating faculty members are appointed as Goldfarb Center Research Fellows, and students are appointed Sandy Maisel Research Fellows. Where possible their work is integrated into other center programs. The Goldfarb Center’s Engaged Scholarship Initiative supports the study of multifaceted and interdisciplinary public policy questions by a broad range of participants—from community stakeholders and industry experts to Colby students, faculty, and alumni—in inclusive networks.

The Cotter Debates, Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award in Journalism, Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award

The Cotter Debates bring national and international experts to campus for spirited discussion of controversial topics. The Lovejoy Award honors a journalist whose craft and courage display qualities exemplified by Elijah Parish Lovejoy, valedictorian of the Colby Class of 1826 and America’s first martyr to freedom of the press. The Brody Award honors a state or federal jurist whose work recalls the career of Judge Morton Brody, a Waterville resident with close ties to the College. The center coordinates programs around both awards, giving students opportunities to interact with the recipients and national leaders who come to campus to honor the winners.