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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.

Fall Term 2018/2019

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) 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 – 3:50 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Justice in Our Community: CJS 260A

This course is a community-based learning course that will begin with an introduction to our local community and examine problems unique to cities. The majority of our instructional time will take place with our community partner. 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, information justice, race and crime.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cyndi Rickards, meets Mondays, 10:00 – 11:50 a.m., in the classroom and then students will work as Navigators at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays from 1:00 – 3:00 pm or 3:00 – 5:00 pm. You will need to choose one shift to work each week, which will appear as a recitation on your schedule.

Nonprofit Communication: COM376-900

All nonprofit organizations must develop and maintain effective communication strategies in order to survive in a competitive economy. Nonprofits have unique needs and limitations in their long-term goals and short-term operations that relate to communication. This course introduces students to the ways nonprofits communicate with both their constituents and their benefactors and the ways researchers have examined these practices. Students will explore these two perspectives on nonprofit communication through a combination of scholarly readings, dialogues with local representatives in the nonprofit sector, and direct contact and work for a local nonprofit organization. This course articulates with the content and goals of other courses in the Department of Communication, specifically COM280 (Public Relations), COM220 (Qualitative Research Methods), COM282 (Public Relations Writing), COM286 (Public Relations Strategies and Tactics), COM675 (Grant Writing for the Arts and Humanities), and COM680 (Public Relations Writing and Strategies). Questions of interest are: What is the nature of a nonprofit organization? How are nonprofit organizations governed? Who are the various stakeholders in a nonprofit’s community? What particular and unique kinds of formal communications do nonprofits engage in?

This 3.0 credit course is taught by Lawrence Souder and meets online.

Story Medicine: WRIT 215

This is a Community Based Learning Course in Fiction Writing and Collaborative Creative Processes. Students go to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to perform in the Ryan Seacrest T.V. studio. Drexel Students write, perform and produce live shows for patients. Students will always use a teleprompter, so no memorization is necessary. Students regularly interact with patients who come down to participate in the Story Medicine show. All writing exercises are suitable for beginning and intermediate fiction writers. Ultimately, students will undertake self-reflective writing, and become active participants in building this course for future quarters.

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

Connections in Life Sciences: BIO T280

Course Description: Connections in Life Sciences is a new open enrollment course designed and intended to allow students to build connections with fundamental biology and their community which together will develop their future professional and personal pursuits. Each week a new insight into genetics that ranges from plants to the human brain will give students the opportunity to learn and to share that knowledge with the Philadelphia community. 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 elementary school with the instructor and Drexel students leading an 8 week after school science club. Course assignments focus on taking a particular concept or skill learned in one of our Drexel courses, connecting it to the lesson demonstrated at the elementary school that week, researching real world applications of that technique, and identifying careers which would utilize that technique or concept. Students will gain 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 Mariah Beaver and Monica Togna, meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m., at the Alain Locke Elementary School.

Critical Reasoning: PHIL 105

Course Description: Introduces and develops the skills involved in reasoning effectively about experience, and being able to distinguish strong arguments from weak ones. This course utilizes the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Drexel students will travel each week to the jail to meet with the other half of the class, men who are incarcerated. Collectively, Drexel and incarcerated students will learn critical reasoning as colleagues for the ten-week term.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Stacey Elizabeth Ake, meets Thursdays, 1:00-3:50 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