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Community-Based Learning

Fostering public good through art, science and industry

“Justice in Our Community (CJS-260)” is taught by Cyndi Rickards, an associate teaching professor of criminology and justice studies.

Drexel College of Arts and Sciences students don’t just study the issues affecting the world — they study alongside the people affected. Each term, the College encourages students to become effective change agents by participating with non-profits, government and citizen activists through community-based learning courses: After Hurricane Maria; Community Read; Connections in Biology; Justice in Our Community; Prison, Society and You; Writing for Social Change; Writers Room Experience and Story Medicine are just a few of the intensive options created by our faculty.

All first-year students at Drexel University are introduced to the concepts of civic engagement and social justice by taking CIVC 101, a foundational course designed by the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement. College of Arts and Sciences faculty work closely with the Lindy Center and the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships to build community connections and immersive academic experiences so that every student will recognize the benefits of public service to their education, their career and to society.

Community-Based Learning: Our Stories

Giant Swallowtail butterfly sticker created by Mary Donnelly, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Drexel in 2022.

Getting Creative in the Field

Mary Donnelly –who recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Drexel’s Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) department — loves fieldwork. But instead of marshlands, forests, plains or deserts, Mary has been busy working right here in Philadelphia. Besides getting out into the field, her interests lie particularly in wildlife conservation. So, for her senior research project, Mary found a fun, collaborative way to do both while also sharing her findings with the community.

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Chris Bolden-Newsome and Lessons of Da Land participants gather in the picnic area and read passages from The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty

Resilience & Joy: Lessons of Da Land

Led by environmental science major Alexis Wiley, a twelve-week cocurricular program introduced Drexel students and community members to food sovereignty and land justice issues in Black Philadelphia. The course worked with community partners and explored a wide variety of sources to deliver Lessons of Da Land.

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Serena Hermitt

Global Studies Major Serena Hermitt Discovers Passion for Community Work

After arriving at Drexel for her first year undecided on a major, Serena Hermitt found the perfect major that fit all of her interests due to its interdisciplinary nature: Global Studies. Now, with a transformative course abroad experience and two co-ops under her belt, Hermitt has discovered her passion for working in the community.

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Ebony and Ivy book cover next to photo of author Craig Steven Wilder

Community Read Examines Lasting Legacy of American Universities’ Ties to Slavery

The College of Arts and Sciences’ inaugural DEI Community Read focused inward in its exploration of the interconnected histories of colonialism, slavery, race and higher education through its discussion of Craig Steven Wilder’s Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities.

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Elizabeth Kimball, PhD, designed a Community-Based Learning course to partner with UESF.

Writing for Social Change in a Side-by-Side Course

When Drexel University moved to an online setting for spring term, no one knew how successful the courses would be. This was especially true for nine Drexel students, one professor, and a handful of members of the nonprofit organization Utility Emergency Services Fund (or UESF, pronounced “you-sef”), who had set out to forge a new partnership. A Community-Based Learning course, Writing for Social Change (WRIT 315) was led by Professor Elizabeth Kimball, who connected the students with the professional staff of UESF.

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Community Partners

The brief list below is a sampling of the many local, regional and global partners dedicated to providing our students with hands-on, immersive community-based learning experiences.