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

Students go to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to perform in the Seacrest Television Studio. Students host, write scripts and lead imagination activities for in-patients and out-patients. Students will write fiction and be introduced to a variety of undergraduate-level fiction writing techniques Subjects covered include: character, plot, setting, sensory writing, specific writing and high-stakes storytelling. All exercises are suitable for beginning and intermediate fiction writers. Ultimately, students will write flash fiction to be included in a Waiting Room Anthology for CHOP patients. Students will also undertake self-reflective writing, and become active participants in building this course for future quarters.

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 p.m. – 4:50 p.m., at Crossroads Hospice.

Writing Poetry: WRIT 301 001

This side-by-side CBL class is a writing intensive class that will examine poetry through the lens of place. How do our surroundings (in the broadest sense) influence our language? How does our environment shape our language? And how can language--especially the language of poetry--shape how we see our world and perhaps even begin to change it in return?

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Kirsten Kaschock, meets Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. – 7:50 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Nonprofit Communication: Public Service Campaigns: COM 378 001

Public communication campaigns are a familiar and essential part of American civic culture. Campaign topics range from personal issues, such as health, to social issues, such as equal opportunity, energy conservation, and environmental protection. Campaigns are regarded as public service programs if their goals are widely supported by the public and policymakers. If their goals are controversial, however, then they are regarded as advocacy strategies.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Rosemary Rys, meets Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:20 p.m., on campus.

Connections in Biology: BIO 200

Connections in Biology (BIO 200) is an open enrollment course which gives students the opportunity to make exactly that: connections. Building upon a new theme in biology each week, students 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 class period on campus and one meeting will be at a partnered middle school with the instructor and Drexel students leading a 9 week after school science club.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Monica Togna, meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m., meets at the Alain Locke Elementary and Morton McMichael Elementary.

Critical Reasoning: PHIL 105

“Critical” is a word with many meanings. For example, the sentence “She is a critical person in my life” can be read in two ways. On the one hand, it seems to be an insult. She is rude, she is mean, she isn’t happy, these are all thoughts that arise when hearing the sentence, “She is a critical person.” Another meeting of critical is “important”: she gives me important advice, she is supportive, she loves me. In this Side-by-Side course, participants will learn both what is meant by “critical reasoning" as well as how to better become "critical thinkers." “Critical reasoning” skills are important skills in all parts of our lives. Participants of this course will learn different critical thinking skills by learning how to identify arguments, the structure of arguments, and determine whether they are good or bad. Participants will be introduced to basic building blocks of logic and learn how to apply these concepts to their everyday life, especially concerning the news media, television commercials, and personal experiences. Participants will also learn to pinpoint “fuzzy” logic, which relies on bad reasoning. Some examples of “fuzzy” logic are appeals to emotions, appeals to authority, and personal attacks.

Learners will also learn how to make their own arguments through individual and group discussion and activities such as debates, short writing assignments, and presentations.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Patricia Grosse, Time and Location: TBA.

Storytelling through Mural Arts: ENGL 323 002

Murals tell stories: about neighborhoods and communities, about individuals and their families, and about significant events in our histories: "Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation's largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For 30 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative process... to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives". In our course we will research the context of a series of murals in Philadelphia, explore the process of community and artistic collaboration that produced them, and participate in a guided tour. Students will be required to visit several murals and document their experience through photographs and a presentation. Another component of the course will be our own storytelling: students will be asked to interpret the stories the murals tell, to make connections to their personal histories and to tell and write their own stories.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Gabriella Ibieta, meets Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., at ACHIEVEability.

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 p.m. – 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 this course seeks to deepen the conversation- and transform ways of thinking about crime and justice (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004) Course Goal and Mission: 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 p.m. – 3:50 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

Once Upon a Lifetime (So Far): HNRS T380 001

Each of us has a story to tell. Yet, people don’t often go out of their way to exchange ideas with strangers, or to sit next to one another in a room for the express purpose of that exchange – particularly when each group occupies a vastly different space in their everyday lives. In this memoir-writing course, blending Drexel (“Outside”) students with incarcerated (“Inside”) students at the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), I will create a setting for these two groups of students to put aside their preconceptions of the “other” as they read selected works of memoir, engage in dialogue about these works, and together learn the craft of writing memoir in order that they might learn about themselves and their peers.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cassandra Hirsch, meets Thursdays, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

Neighborhood Economic Development

This course explores local strategies for community and neighborhood economic development, with a particular focus on retail commercial corridors. Topics include: community organizing for economic development, urban planning as an economic development strategy, the role of government in neighborhood economic development, and the history of retail in American cities.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Richardson Dilworth, meets Wednesdays, 6:00 p.m. – 9:50 p.m., Location: TBA.

History of Philadelphia: HIST 276 001

Philadelphia. No other city has done more to define the American experience. This is an active course—bringing the past and the present together for discussion and examination. The course surveys the history of Philadelphia through pre-colonial, colonial, and industrial eras to the present day. We will investigate Philadelphia as an economic, social, cultural, and political center. Students will read primary and secondary sources, as well as conduct original oral history research, especially focused on the history of West Philadelphia. The course combines lectures and discussions with “on-site” historical examinations and walking tours to tie the present and the past together.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Scott Knowles, meets Thursdays, 2:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m., meets at People's Emergency Center.

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