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Public Policy Course Gives Students First-Hand Look at Community Issues

By: Faye Hoffman

CHICOPEE, Mass. (abc40) — Sometimes the best learning is done outside of the classroom, no matter what level of education.  That’s why Amherst College offered a public policy course over winter break, that took students around Western Mass.  

The students learned about issues impacting local communities like charter schools, homelessness, food security and biomass.  Friday morning, they met with local lawmakers in Chicopee to learn even more.

One of the experiences that stood out for the students was meeting with Mason Square residents.  Instructor Aron Goldman, with the Springfield Institute, says, “These were regular residents who were just learning about health disparities in the community, and how they’re disproportionately affected by air quality issues.  And the big biomass plant that was planned for a very dense and high minority section of Springfield.  They’re figuring out this would have been a total nightmare, and because of their mobilization, plans for the project are on hold.”

The students attended many meetings regarding the issues they studied, visited non-profits, schools, and examined other community programs.


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