Mayor Benjamin teaches community engagement course at Columbia College

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Mayor Benjamin teaches community engagement course at Columbia College

CC students on the Marriott Columbia Downtown rooftop during Main Street tour.
Photo credit: Ari Robbins

CC students on the Marriott Columbia Downtown rooftop during Main Street tour. Photo credit: Ari Robbins

CC students on the Marriott Columbia Downtown rooftop during Main Street tour. Photo credit: Ari Robbins

CC students on the Marriott Columbia Downtown rooftop during Main Street tour. Photo credit: Ari Robbins

Lauren Fleming, co-editor

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“Columbia College offers a highly intellectual, socially motivated group of engaged students, traditional and nontraditional,” Mayor Steve Benjamin said about the opportunity to work at CC.

Benjamin, mayor of the City of Columbia, is on campus this semester, teaching a course on the redevelopment of North Main Street, Lead 290/Posc 290.

This course is part of a series of courses that Benjamin and Ben Rex, ceo of Cyberwoven, have taught over the past few years. Formerly taught at the University of South Carolina for four non-consecutive semesters, the course was moved because Benjamin and Rex wanted to see what Columbia College students had to offer.

The course is always focused on integrating the particular institution of higher education with the city, incorporating discussion and evaluation of cultural, infrastructural and corporate resources.

So far, class activities have included a tour of Main Street with information from Benjamin, Rex and Ari Robbins, Cyberwoven corporate analyst and teaching assistant for the course. The tour covered the historical preservation and the economic surge of Main Street over the past decade.

The class also toured the North Main area, with stops at up-and-coming attractions, such as parks, senior living facilities, community centers and local businesses.

The course moved from USC to Columbia College because Benjamin and Rex saw the role Columbia College wanted to play in the evolution of North Main. Benjamin credits Carol Moore, Ph.D., Columbia College president, for her idea of a “Communiversity,” in which the institution of higher learning has a direct presence in the community in which it resides.

The class will also be putting together a tangible vision for the future impact of this college-city partnership. Benjamin hopes students will gain a more comprehensive understanding of how special Columbia is.

Benjamin said he and Rex are currently unsure if the course will expand to other colleges in the area, such as Benedict College and Columbia International University, though, he enjoys teaching and the sharing of collective experiences it offers. Every class offers something different to be learned, allowing him to be a “student of the world.”

Columbia College houses a wide variety of life experiences, Benjamin said. He looks forward to getting to know the class and the college more because of the diversity CC offers.

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