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We Work with the World

Public Engagement

Public Engagement propels students into real world situations that tap their creative potential.

The Public Engagement Minor is a four-year curricular pathway that integrates art, real world problems and community partners into its teaching curriculum. Students work with community partners to solve and address real, complex problems in our project and problem-based courses. Utilizing project planning and best practice collaborative models, our students take action as citizens, artists and designers.

The minor is a model for interdisciplinary education with an extraordinary pre-professional program, exposing students to skills for a variety of careers in nonprofit and educational organizations, art institutions, graduate study, and expanded notions of entrepreneurial studio practice. This program serves as another support for MECA’s dynamic curriculum, further engages students and prepares them with professional and interpersonal skills that helps set them, and the institution, apart.

The minor supports the ongoing effort to raise critical rigor and engagement of the student body while fostering interdisciplinary collaborations among students, the institution and community partners. For graduates, professional and interpersonal skills seamlessly flow from work in MECA to work out in the world as creative and social agents. One of the first programs of its kind in an art school, this interdisciplinary curriculum has been part of our pedagogy for more than 25 years. Together, we learn and apply the skills of co-creating, designing, building and activating our world to make it better for all.

2016 Excellence

PB_ICA_CollectiveAction_2016 (8 of 39)

Click here to read more about our various exhibitions, events, and artistic excellence.


MECA’s 25-year history of Public Engagement partnerships is vast, deep, and diverse. We are grateful for what we have learned and co-created with them.


Visiting Artists

Contact Us

For more information please contact the Office of Public Engagement at 207.699.5064.


  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Student
  • Public Engagement

    The Public Engagement student exhibition Art & Audubon: Collaboration in Conservation opens on Friday, . . .

    The Public Engagement student exhibition Art & Audubon: Collaboration in Conservation opens on Friday, October 27, 5–7pm at the Gisland Farm in Falmouth.Read More

  • Sarah Milkowski-Dahlgren '17

    Public Engagement Fellow Sarah Milkowski-Dahlgren '17 has been selected to receive the Maine Campus Compact . . .

    Public Engagement Fellow Sarah Milkowski-Dahlgren ’17 has been selected to receive the Maine Campus Compact Student Heart and Soul Award at their 15th annual awards ceremony, hosted at the Hall of Flags at the Maine State House in Augusta. Maine Campus Compact recognizes six undergraduate students who have been actively involved in . . .Read More

  • Sara Inacio '17

    MECA has played a major role in shaping me as an artist.

    In 2015, Sara Inacio was awarded a Professional Development and Entrepreneurship Grant, which helps BFA, MFA, and MAT students to advance their studio and professional skills by accessing opportunities and experiences beyond the MECA classroom. She is using her funds to participate in a project conducted by Braddock Tiles, a community . . .Read More

  • Chloe Beaven ’15 and Caitlin Ervin ’16

    Chloe Beaven ’15 and Caitlin Ervin ’16 were selected as Public Engagement Fellows in 2014‐2015, . . .

    Chloe Beaven ’15 and Caitlin Ervin ’16 were selected as Public Engagement Fellows in 2014‐2015, supported by a grant from the Ladd Foundation. They received a financial scholarship and academic credit to design and lead projects that built relationships between MECA and the community as part of their Public Engagement Minors. . . .Read More

  • Maggie Muth ’11

    There was a hum of light conversation and the sharing of supplies— just like in the MECA studios during . . .

    Thanks to her husband’s career, Maggie Muth has traveled far and wide.  After residing in Shanghai, they recently lived in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, where art programming was nonexistent in the village schools. To make art affordable and accessible for every student, Maggie started . . .Read More

  • Chloe Beaven '15

    At MECA, Chloe utilized her public engagement minor to leverage leadership positions on campus.

    Chloe transferred to MECA for the Public Engagement minor after studying Anthropology and Visual Arts at the University of British Columbia. During her time at MECA she has utilized her public engagement minor to leverage leadership positions on campus, in the community, and around the globe. She partnered with Waynflete School and Seeds . . .Read More

  • Hannah Merchant '13

    Growing and making food and documenting the act with photography was a powerful experience.

    The “Grow Cart” was created by Hannah Merchant ’13, who majored in Woodworking and Furniture Design with a Minor in Public Engagement. This mobile farm stand was designed in partnership with Cultivating Community for her Public Engagement Capstone project. The Grow Cart is used to deliver local organic produce and . . .Read More

  • Kelly McConnell, Director of Art Education Outreach, Associate Professor

I never anticipated how much my college students would love going to a place that felt like a home and a . . .

    Article originally published in The Cedars Magazine. Local Art Students and Seniors at The Cedars Fore a Connection Through Art “Where can I be an aging artist?” “Where can I be true to myself” Kelly McConnell, an artist-educator at MECA, found herself pondering these questions while observing an Opening Minds . . .Read More

  • Faculty Elizabeth Jabar & Colleen Kinsella

    Utilizing collaborative artmaking as a tool for equity, social justice and public action.

    Two faculty members, Elizabeth Jabar, Assistant Dean, Director of Public Engagement & Program Chair of Printmaking, and Colleen Kinsella, Printmaking Instructor & Printmaking Studio Technician, recently were interviewed for their art collective Future Mothers on CSArt: Maine. “What / who is currently inspiring you locally?” . . .Read More

  • Elizabeth Jabar

    I am convinced that this pedagogy and socially engaged art practice are the core to art education.

    ON THE PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM From my very first Public Engagement course I witnessed my students experience deep learning when they were given the opportunity to apply their creative imagination and skills in a real world context. Through this work students grapple with an expansive set of social, cultural, political and . . .Read More

  • Paul Gebhardt ʼ96

    Artists have so much to offer the world. Their creative approach is needed in all of our cultural, economic . . .

    What drives your need for/belief in service and public engagement? I am most interested in that intersection between a creative action and a social need. I am curious about how art can bring awareness, challenge an assumption, open a discourse about a difficult topic—like poverty or food security—and solve a practical problem. I am . . .Read More

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  • Public Engagement students will:

    • Learn how to work in a variety of settings and gain professional experience and exposure to a range of careers, fields, and arenas including but not limited to arts administration, nonprofit and educational organizations, community-based teaching and entrepreneurial endeavors.
    • Study and apply problem-based project models. This includes ethics, best practices of community building, appropriate community processes, and skill building for organizing, project planning and working collaboratively.
    • Study the history, theory, models and context of art practice in the field of public engagement, including: public art, community art, collaboration, social practice, and the role of the citizen artist/designer.
  • I see the Public Engagement Program as a pedagogy for the investigation of the intersection between art and social change. I have noted that the line between art and social change has blurred, allowing me to confront issues of social injustice and cultural conflict directly in my own art practice.

    Chloe Beaven  2015  //  Digital Media & Public Engagement  //  Portland, Maine

What do our alumni do?

Statistics from the 2015 Strategic National Arts Alumni project (SNAAP)

Did you know?

55% is the national average for arts alumni that work as professional artists.

45% is the national average for arts alumni that are self employed, independent contractors, or freelance workers.


Work as professional artists


Work as graphic designers, illustrators, or art directors


Founded a business


Work as craft artists


Work as fine artists


Work as art teachers


Pursued an MFA after graduation


Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers


Make art in their personal time

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