For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Community-Based Learning

Community Members and Drexel Students walking in a Philadelphia Street

In the College of Arts and Sciences unique Community-Based-Learning courses, students don’t just study the issues affecting the world — they study alongside the people affected. In Prison Society and You, students attend class in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility alongside prison inmates, creating a dialogue about crime and justice between those outside and inside of the nation’s correctional facilities. In Urban Farming Communities, students learn how to plant and maintain an urban green space at a West Philadelphia farm where they volunteer each week. In Hospice Journaling, students create life journals for hospice patients to help ailing individuals create a lasting record of their life for their loved ones. And in Connections in Biology, students teach in an after-school science club at a local middle school on topics ranging from microbiology to genetics.

Community-Based-Learning courses are offered in three formats: side-by-side, community hybrid and service learning. Side-by-side courses create a co-learning environment in which Drexel students and community members take classes together. Community hybrid courses are composed entirely of Drexel students and are split between the classroom and community. Service learning courses require service in the community in addition to students’ credit hours in the classroom.


  • ACHIEVEability
  • Art Sanctuary
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • City of Philadelphia
  • Crossroads Hospice
  • Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
  • Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships
  • Enterprise Center
  • Freire Charter School
  • Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center School Program
  • Ivan "Pick" Brown Memorial Foundation Inc.
  • Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association
  • LIFT - Philadelphia
  • Locke Elementary School
  • Mantua Senior Residence
  • Moder Patshala
  • Philabundance
  • Project for Nuclear Awareness
  • Spells Writing Lab, Inc.
  • The Veterans Group
  • U.C. Green, Inc.
  • Urban Tree Connection
  • Usiloquy Dance Designs
  • West Philadelphia Financial Services


For the most current list of available courses, visit the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement.


Story Medicine: WRIT T280 002

Drexel students will go into the Ryan Seacrest Studio at CHOP to lead CHOP patients in innovative and fun fiction writing exercises. These studio sessions will be broadcast throughout the hospital so that children who can’t come down to the studio can still participate. This course aims to introduce students to the hospital as a vibrant nexus of learning and healing while at the same time utilizing student and patient imagination to create an experiential narrative that can have lasting impact on all involved. This course is also a beginning fiction writing class. Drexel students will write their own flash fiction and gain mastery over introductory fiction writing techniques. Students will use fiction writing techniques to support and design activities for children at CHOP. This Community-Based Learning course will meet one day at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and one day on campus.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Nomi Eve, meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m., at CHOP – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Life is Beautiful: WRIT 304 130

Students will be asked to visit the residence of an assigned hospice patient in the general area. This community partnership course links memoir with life, story-telling, and dying. Specifically, the course partners students with local hospice patients to co-create a life-story for the patient and his or her family. Students learn interviewing, listening, and writing techniques as well as skills in analysis and presentation. Additionally, the course facilitates interactions with the community and helps students to see themselves as linked to a community outside of college.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Ken Bingham, meets Thursdays, 3:30 – 4:50 p.m., at Crossroads Hospice.

Justice in Our Community: CJS 260 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006

This course is a seminar style community-based learning course that will begin with an introduction to urban sociology and examine problems unique to cities. The majority of our instructional time will take place with our community partners. The synthesis of scholarship and community classroom experience will provide a holistic leans in which to explore issues in our urban community. Topics include: urban economies, access to education and health care, digital divides and crime. Students meet for one hour in the classroom and work as Navigators at UConnect T, W or TH from 1-3 or 3-5. You will need to choose one shift to work each week./p>

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cyndi Rickards,mmeets Mondays, 10:00 – 11:50 a.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mobilizing the Scientific Method

For the first weekly class sessions, Drexel students will meet with course instructors. For the second weekly class sessions, high school partners will join us at Drexel in a PISB Teaching Laboratory to engage in scientific inquiry. One or two Drexel students will be grouped with four high school students as a Team. Drexel students will guide their high school partner groups along an experiential learning process using mentoring skills acquired by lessons and planning with Drexel instructors. Together they will mobilize the scientific method by actively engaging in collaborative research projects.

For the initial project, all students will investigate the impact of sterilization of soil on fast plant growth. Students will work together in their Teams to design a carefully controlled experiment with sufficient replicates. With instructor supervision, students will execute their experiment, collect and tally the data, and interpret the data based on controls. The second project will be of the students’ own design, possibly following up on the results of the first experiment. Drexel students will work with Robeson students to ask a relevant question and design a well-controlled experiment.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Karen Kabnick, meets Mondays, 4:00 p.m. – 5:50 p.m., and Fridays, 1:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m., in the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Center.

Communication for Civic Engagement: COM 377/577

Extremist rhetoric and divisive politics seem to go hand-in-hand in today’s public deliberations. The media so often pair the word rhetoric itself with the pejorative adjectives mere, empty, and deceptive, that anything rhetorical becomes vilified. This course draws from the ancient accounts of rhetoric and the contemporary studies on rhetoric to rehabilitate it as a way to inform our efforts towards a more civil public discourse. This course also will host guest speakers from local civic and political organizations who engage in rhetorical practices in the service of civic engagement, which includes the discourse both of people who exercise political power and of citizens who debate over public policies and cultural identity. Objectives Students who successfully complete this course will be able to: - describe the relationship between rhetoric and civic engagement (responsible citizenship*) - distinguish between just and unjust regards for an audience (ethical reasoning*) - identify strategic uses of language and arguments in debates over public policies and cultural identity (communication*) - evaluate arguments in the service of civic engagement for a community group (self-directed learning*)

*Relevance to Drexel Student Learning Priorities

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Lawrence Souder, meets Tuesdays, 6:30 – 9:20 p.m. This is an online course.

Connections in Physics: PHYS T180 001

Connections in Physics is a new open enrollment course which will give students the opportunity to make exactly that: connections. Building upon a new theme in physics each week, students will connect that material to their current Philadelphia community as well as to their future professional and personal pursuits. The course is designed on the Community Based Learning platform (CBL) and is scheduled to meet twice a week: one meeting will be a formal lecture on campus and one meeting will be at a partnered middle school where the Drexel students will lead an after school science club. Course assignments will focus on taking a particular concept or skill learned in one of our Drexel courses, connecting it to the lesson demonstrated at the middle school that week, researching real world applications of that technique, and identifying careers which would utilize that technique or concept. Concepts can range from applications of electromagnetic induction to thermodynamics in weather prediction. Students will gain volunteer hours, get an introduction to civic engagement, benefit from community based learning practices and connect their Drexel course material to the bigger picture in their lives.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Christina Love, meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m., at Alaine Locke Elementary School.

Critical Reasoning: PHIL 105 013

Introduces the student to the skills necessary for reasoning clearly about their experience and beliefs. Helps the student distinguish between weak and strong arguments. Teaches the student how to view media critically. This course is a Side-by-Side course and will meet at the Dornsife Center each class. Drexel students and community students will work as colleagues in this class.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Stacey Ake, meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 – 7:50 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Techniques of Speaking: COMM 230 017

A workshop course in improving public speaking skills. Provides experience in speeches of explanation, persuasion, and argument. This course is a Side-by-Side course and will meet at ACHIEVabilty each class. Drexel students and community students will work as colleagues in this class.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Danie Greenwell, meets Wednesdays, 2:00 – 4:50 p.m. at ACHIEVEability.

Prison, Society and You: CJS 261

This course utilizes the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program to explore the relationship between individuals and the prison system. The Inside-Out Exchange Program is an evolving set of projects that creates opportunities for dialogue between those on the outside and those on the inside of the nation’s correctional facilities. The program demonstrates the potential for dynamic collaborations between institutions of higher education and correctional institutions. Most importantly, through this unique exchange, Inside-Out an this course seeks to deepen the conversation- and transform ways of thinking about crime and justice (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004).

At the most basic level, this course and program allows students to go behind the walls to reconsider what they have learned about crime and justice, while those on the inside are encouraged to place their life experiences in a larger framework. Students will exchange ideas and perceptions about crime and justice, the criminal justice system, corrections and imprisonment. It is a chance for all participants to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system through the marriage of theoretical knowledge and practical experience achieved by weekly meetings and extended throughout the semester. (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004).

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cyndi Rickards, meets Thursdays, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

What Students Are Saying About Community-Based Learning

“The Inside-Out Prison Exchange course was by far the most memorable class I took at Drexel. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to open up a greater diversity of thought. Two years later, I still reflect on the lessons I learned and how the class transformed my way of thinking about crime and justice.” — Stephanie Takach, BS Communication ’12

"The opportunities offered in community-based learning at Drexel were the most rewarding and significant aspects of my education. They not only enabled me to get involved with the surrounding community of West Philadelphia and opened my eyes to the hardships that inner-city individuals experience, but they also offered the chance to undertake a more robust social science project that utilized my ethnographic skills. Doing this kind of research made me more excited about anthropological work and gave me a sense of being involved in the discipline. As a result of all of these factors, I will never forget how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to take part in this work." — Peter Knepper, BA Anthropology '11

“As an anthropology major, I gained a great deal of real research experience and learned a lot about core sociological concepts through community-based-learning courses. While volunteering, I was able to see the impact I can make on my community and I had the opportunity to interact with people whom I would never normally be able to talk to. Through these incredible interactions, I learned the importance of a symbiotic relationship. As much as I have been helping those in need, they have been helping me. Their knowledge and experience has taught me so much and has made me grow immensely." — Nora Meighan, BA Anthropology '14

"I can't put into words how amazing this course was and how it affected my life as a whole… The way in which the course brought together such a diverse group of people and showed us all that we are all the same, was life changing. I am forever grateful for the experiences I have had and the people I have met in this class. I will never forget it." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course

"Through this course I was able to travel outside of my comfort zone physically and mentally. It enabled me to not only meet community members, but also to get to know each and everyone one of them on a personal level." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course

"I loved this class. I enjoyed being off campus and with a diverse group of students." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course