Students in a new moral psychology course spent the semester working with local nonprofits to address issues ranging from migrant family justice to food insecurity to sustainable agriculture.

The 10 Moral Psychology in Action students began the semester studying various aspects of community work and the need to develop partnerships to tackle the toughest issues facing people today, said Laura Niemi, professor Psychology Assistant and Head of Faculty for the new minor in Moral Psychology.

“The course attracts students who want to make a difference in the world through ethical leadership and positive contributions in organizations, and who are drawn to scholarly work in psychology, ethics and morality,” a- she declared. “They care deeply about social justice and ethics.”

The course is supported by the Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship program, which rewards faculty for their civic engagement work.

Prameela Kottapalli ’23 worked with the group Justice for Migrant Families (JFMF). She was already a volunteer there, but she says that this project allowed her to immerse herself in the organization’s mission. JFMF is a community organization dedicated to the direct support and advocacy of detained and formerly detained immigrants at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center.

“Much of my advocacy work over the past few years has revolved around immigration detention. My academic pursuits also revolve around this – my major as a scholar is rooted in immigration and incarceration studies,” she said, adding that she was a daughter of immigrants. first generation. “I developed personal connections with people supported by JFMF during and after detention, and wanted to further integrate theory and practice by combining engagement with JFMF with the discipline of psychology and ethics.”

Kottapalli’s project involved working closely with community outreach and campaign execution teams demanding legislative changes, public education, and accountability of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on issues such as reinstating visits from family members. She also did translation work and volunteered intermittently on the JFMF Detention Hotline, communicating with people in detention about their direct needs.

“I know I want to continue this work after college and being able to immerse myself in it first hand has been an incredibly valuable experience,” she said.

Ade Lawrence ’22, an architecture student, chose to work with EcoVillage, a sustainable living community that also offers educational programs and events related to sustainability.

“I’m very interested in sustainable design and communities that have little impact on their environment,” he said. “What I find appealing about Ecovillage is the combination of several sustainable design techniques and a healthy community.”

He worked this semester on a project called Edible Ithaca, a garden space in the city of Ithaca where members and residents of the Ecovillage can share their knowledge with the local community. They were able to locate a site, do a significant amount of research, and start working on a design proposal.

“It is crucial that the knowledge and resources needed to achieve climate change mitigation goals are accessible and easy to digest,” he said. “Ecovillage is not only an existing precedent that proves the goals are viable, but they are also genuinely interested in spreading their knowledge.”