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Campus Spotlight: Breaking Ground at UMBC

Breaking Ground at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

UMBC has been a key campus in the American Democracy Project’s Civic Agency initiative. We’re excited about the new BreakingGround initiative at UMBC which builds on UMBC’s commitment to fostering civic agency; it is yet another example of how institutional intentionality can contribute to cultural change on campus.

BreakingGround is a true campus-wide collaboration: inspired in part by student initiatives, building on a variety of successful service-learning and social change projects, supported by faculty from many disciplines, deeply rooted in UMBC’s culture and history of innovation and entrepreneurship.  BreakingGround features courses developed or redesigned to promote civic agency; incentives to link community service projects with opportunities for deep learning and engagement; numerous opportunities for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners to collaborate on campus and community change projects; and a blog for sharing stories, launching community discussions and promoting involvement.  Like the most successful social change movements, BreakingGround is inclusive and organic, tapping the talents and passions of the participants and helping them pull together to advance the common good.  In the wake of calls for higher education to become far more creative and effective in supporting democratic learning and engagement, BreakingGround is UMBC’s way of helping to “make the road by walking.”

About the Project

UMBC is helping to lead an extraordinary, new higher education movement toward innovative, energetic campus and community engagement. In a time of widespread skepticism about the capacity of our democracy to respond to society’s needs, UMBC’s initiatives are demonstrating the power of individuals and collaborative groups as agents of meaningful change and renewal. This work is deeply embedded in a campus culture that builds community from diversity and celebrates ingenuity and resourcefulness.

UMBC’s campus and civic engagement projects have developed over the past decade in a variety of departments, programs and student organizations linked by informal networks and conversations. Now, to deepen this work and make it more visible on campus and beyond, UMBC is fostering an intentional and powerful coalescence. This emerging collaboration, known as BreakingGround, launched in August 2012 through innovative courses, community engagement activities and online conversation.

Please visit the BreakingGround website (, and follow/share the initiative on Twitter through #digUMBC.

Read ADP Campus Coordinator David Hoffman’s recent Breaking Ground blog post here.

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