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Community Spotlight: Center for Community Based Learning

December 12, 2022

The Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL) at Lasell University is the ecosystem for social responsibility and civic engagement in alignment with the University’s mission. The CCBL supports faculty in embedding service learning in their courses and helps students get involved in social movements and causes beyond Lasell’s campus. Community and civic engagement are a crucial part of Lasell’s culture, and the CCBL is an important hub to support students’ pathways toward community engagement. 

The CCBL is home to the Partnerships for Academic Confidence and Educational Success (PACES) program, Alternative Spring Break (ASB), Lasell Votes, the Dry Food Pantry, and more. The Center has existed at Lasell for more than two decades, underscoring the University’s rich history of community engagement. Associate Director Byrd Hughes’ main goal is to help the University grow that civic muscle and help students make an impact. In the coming years, she hopes to keep up student support for the communities with which Lasell interacts and intersects — as well as individual support for the students themselves. 

Student in Lasell's Dry Food Pantry, part of the CCBL
A student at Lasell's Dry Food Pantry, made possible by the Center for Community-Based Learning.

“We try to find ways to best support them, in not only dealing with their own experiences and whatever they have going on, but also making sure they can go into communities and be successful,” she says. 

Those communities encompass local areas, such as Newton and Greater Boston, and locations across the country. The Alternative Spring Break Program, in particular, has been a highlight of the student CCBL experience. Student leaders choose national locations aligned with service work around a particular social issue, identify partners to work with, and plan both educational and communal programming for their peers. Previous trip locations and initiatives have included Georgia in coordination with the National Parks Services; Boise, Idaho with a focus on hunger and homelessness; and Texas for disaster recovery. 

Lasell students on an Alternate Spring Break trip to Boise, Idaho
Students on a Lasell Alternate Spring Break trip to Boise, Idaho.

On this trip, students live, cook, and reflect together over the course of a week. Daily reflection includes talking about their time at service sites, as well as the cultural and geographic factors at play. The relationships that are built carry far beyond their time at Lasell.

“When these students graduate and move on in their careers, they continue to stay connected with one another,” says Hughes. “Even if their work is not focused on those social issues, they leave Lasell with an understanding of the power of relationships, community, and having a cohort to fall back on.” 

To learn more about the CCBL or become involved as a student or community partner, visit the CCBL web page or email Byrd Hughes at