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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.

Winter Term 2019-2020

Communication for Civic Engagement: COM 377-900

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 is taught by Lawrence Souder and meets online.

Justice in Our Community: CJS 260

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, 10:0011:50 a.m., in the classroom and then students will work as Navigators at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays from 1:003:00 pm or 3:005:00 pm. You will need to choose one shift to work each week, which will appear as a recitation on your schedule.

Life is Beautiful: WRIT 305

This community-based-learning 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

Mobilizing the Scientific Method: BIO 205

Students in Bio T280, a new Community-Based Learning course, will learn cooperatively with local high school students who will come to Drexel campus weekly. Drexel students will work with instructors to develop approaches to ask and answer scientific questions. Drexel students will then guide high school partners using a mentor-teacher model. We will use fast plants as our model organism to ask questions with controlled experiments, collect and interpret data, draw conclusions and redesign experiments based on those results. The goal of this course is to encourage collaborative learning through experimentation and mentoring.

This 3.0 credit course is taught by Karen Kabnick, meets Mondays 4:00 - 5:50 p.m. and Fridays 1:00 - 2:50 p.m., at the Robeson High School.

Opening Doors: Aiding Reentry: CJS 002

This is an Inside-Out class in which Drexel Students will meet at Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility along with students resident there. Keep in mind this is not a service learning class, it is a side-by-side college course. The class will focus on professional transitions for both inside and outside students. Within the context of issues barring on race, class, and justice this course offers both theoretical and practical knowledge about the job market. Transportation will be provided from Main Campus.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Douglas V. Porpora & Julia C. Richmond, meets Thursdays, 1:00 - 3:50 p.m., at the Curran- Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Prison, Society & 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 - 4:00 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Story Medicine: WRIT 215

This is a Community Based Learning Course in creative 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 writers. Students undertake self-reflective writing, and become active participants in building this course for future quarters. Actors, singers, and dancers are welcome as this is a live performance class, but absolutely no performing experience is needed. Acting Practicum credit available (contact Nomi Eve for details)

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

Visit Drexel's Story Medicine website to learn more

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