1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

From classroom to council chambers: Transylvania students help Lexingtonians find civic voice


At Transylvania, students aren’t just learning about the world around them — they’re actually shaping it.

Back in 2021, professor Alan Bartley and his Seminar in Economics class helped create a proposal to improve the way the public makes comments to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. The report was presented to council members during a General Government and Planning Committee meeting earlier this month.

The Transylvania students helped come up with questions for a survey as part of the proposal, gauging things like the effectiveness of options for the public to provide input to the council and whether as citizens they want to take a more active role in local government. Municipal employees also responded to questions.

The class project was in partnership with CivicLex, a group the university has worked with in the past, including On the Table conversations shaping the 2023 Comprehensive Plan.   

“Service learning within an actual local nonprofit engaged in a real-world mission actively shows students why theory is important and how its application actually matters,” Bartley said. “This project with CivicLex allowed students the time and opportunity to engage the nonprofit mission organizers and to learn from them directly and from the academic theory we studied within class.”

Transylvania students in general are learning through engagement — whether that means serving communities in Guatemala over winter break or putting together snack packs for area schoolchildren. 

This particular partnership could impact how much of a voice local citizens have in their government. “Such projects allow students to see directly (and not just theoretically) why and how economics is situated within the ‘social’ sciences,” Bartley said.