Puksta Scholars Fall 2017Scholarship Background

The Puksta family has committed to supporting a scholarship program for undergraduate students who have a strong commitment to civic responsibility and high ethical standards. The program is also supported by the university. The Puksta Scholars program consists of a small number of students who will receive $5,000 annual scholarships, renewable for up to four years. Puksta scholars are people with strong academic goals, who want to be role models and who want to bring about positive change within our campus and society.

Puksta Program Overview

The education of students to be responsible citizens within our society constitutes a key part of the University of Colorado’s educational mission. Because our democracy requires citizens who have a sense of civic responsibility, we aspire to prepare citizens who have ethical standards and are civically engaged, as well as to graduate professionally competent workers who can contribute to the economic well being of our society.

The development of civic responsibility within students necessarily requires ethical and civic learning. Our students will inevitably face great challenges, many of which will have to be addressed from a sound foundation of high ethical principles and strong commitment to civic engagement, as befits a democratic form of government in a free society. Some of those ethical and civic challenges are age-old: creation and distribution of wealth; individual freedom vs. collective security; the social contract; war and peace. Others are new: bioethical – genetic screening and cloning; perhaps reaching the human carrying capacity of the earth; climate change; an ever shrinking globe and the myriad cultural and nation-state interplays that produces and many others. We want our students to be leaders in actively participating in efforts to deal with these issues and to do so from a strong base of knowledge, understanding and personal integrity. The University of Colorado at Boulder is positioned to provide this ethical and civic education.

Puksta ScholarsIn addition to more fully engaging the curricular and co-curricular offerings in the ethical and civic development of our students, the campus needs to have a cadre of students who embody the values and behaviors of an ethically and civically responsible citizenry. The Puksta Scholars are a key part of this cadre of student leaders. For these students, the campus and communities are laboratories for learning and practicing socially responsible behavior. These students serve as a catalyst for bringing about positive change in the campus culture and in our local communities, while acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences necessary for responsible citizenship upon graduation. What they experience and practice in their classes, in their residence halls, in their student organizations, volunteering in a homeless shelter, in bridging disparate groups, and/or in teaching underprivileged youth will be encouraged and supported by faculty and staff who serve as mentors and instructors. The ethical and societal issues with which they grapple in their courses or in conversations will have a broader meaning because of their exposure to the challenges facing our society.

Puksta Program Description

Puksta Scholars will be engaged in a rich, stimulating and important program of civic engagement. Civic engagement is taking individual and collective actions that are designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Throughout their time in the Puksta program, each scholar will engage in a variety of activities in order to explore and develop their civic knowledge, skills, dispositions, and experiences, which will be centered around the eco-social justice issues and communities they are most passionate about. 

  • Civic Knowledge. Civic knowledge includes a fundamental understanding of both the historical precedents and root causes that shape eco-social issues as we experience them today, and the processes by which community organizing addresses those issues. It is the exploration of how privilege and oppression simultaneously occur on the individual, cultural, and institutional levels in our lives and in larger social contexts. Civic knowledge includes utilizing a systems approach to broaden and deepen our thinking about complex eco-social justice issues and the interconnections between them.


  • Civic Skills. Civic skills are the skills necessary to participate as informed, thoughtful, and engaged members of our communities. These skills include but are not limited to thoughtfully speaking, listening, collaborating, community organizing, and public advocacy. Civic skills are necessary for thinking critically, building mutually beneficial relationships, and participating in collective action. Additionally, civic skills require the ability to gather and process information, and establish correlations and cause and effect relationships in order to create lasting and meaningful change.


  • Civic Dispositions. Civic dispositions are attitudes, beliefs, and traits that are essential for creating positive change to cultivate healthy, equitable, and just communities. This includes a sense of personal efficacy, personal identity, spiritual growth, moral development; relating from a strengths based approach of understanding communities; centering the needs and perspectives of communities/community members most impacted by injustices; and holding oneself accountable for their actions, big and small, being rooted in ethics and integrity.


  • Civic Experience. Civic Experience is participating in thoughtfully organized actions or activities that are responding to community identified needs. This includes volunteering, collaborating, deliberating, speaking, voting, researching, and other activities designed to learn about community issues, assist others who are working to address those issues, and influence opinions and further actions. Ideally, such experiences are reciprocal exchanges of knowledge and resources accomplished through service and reflection.

By engaging in such endeavors, scholars will serve as models of civic and social responsibility promoting positive change within our communities. This work will effectively integrate learning in and outside the classroom resulting in an enhanced and illuminating educational experience and responsible citizenship.

Scholars are supported in their Puksta journey by an experienced team of faculty/staff, other scholars and an enriching program of seminars, speakers, service projects and opportunities to collaborate and share insights.

Puksta Program Requirements

Within the context of the definition of civic engagement, Puksta Scholars are expected to:

Within the context of the definition of civic engagement, Puksta Scholars are expected to:

1) Actively participate in public service and contribute to the common good.

2) Engage in and complete all requirements for the first-year Puksta Scholar Civic Knowledge curriculum.

3) Develop a “Civic Engagement Commitment Plan” with their coordinator at the beginning of each semester and fulfill the self-assigned requirements of that plan. Devote considerable time and effort to their civic engagement endeavors, an average of 6 hours per week/20 hours per month. Quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the personal growth and community impact that occurred as a result of that engagement at the end of each year.

4) Contribute to the Puksta Program community by actively building relationships with cohort members and supporting others civic engagement efforts.

5) Register and complete all requirements for Puksta Scholars Practicum course (INVS 2005) and attend Puksta events and meetings.