PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A group of students from Lafayette College don’t care about the cold. They’re side-by-side with subsistence farmers in Honduras, who earn $2.60 daily, cultivating new crops (photo) while others are in New Orleans with hurricane-devastated residents figuring out ways to attract businesses to the area.

These are liberal arts students, part of the Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project doing community engagement and economic outreach that one might expect from engineering departments—meeting public needs and civic ambitions—students from disciplines as varied as art and economics.

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The Chronicle of Higher Education reports a growing number of liberal arts colleges closing the gap between “ivory tower and public square.” Students at Macalester and Carleton Colleges, both in Minnesota, are working on local problems related to immigrant populations– part of Imagining America, a consortium that supports campus-community partnerships.

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Michael Kelly, an assistant professor at Lafayette points out that this is not a do-gooder project. Students are not handing out blankets; they’re finding solutions to real life problems that not only make a contribution, but should help make them more employable as graduates.

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Reported By Dr. Marciene Mattleman, KYW Newsradio