Community Engaged Scholarships Courses

In a typical year, GW offers approximately 80 courses through which students can engage in projects with local community organizations. Depending on the learning goals, student may engage directly with community members, do research and advocacy work, or capacity-building projects with community-serving organizations. These experiences enhance student learning by challenging students to use course-based knowledge to understand issues in context and problem-solve. Students also improve their ability to do social perspective taking, build empathy, and gain a greater sense of civic mindedness (see our annual course survey for more on student learning outcomes). Review the examples below to learn more about community engaged scholarship courses at GW.

 

OUR STORIES

Community Engaged Learning and Research

In 2020-2021, 70% of course-based service fell into this category, which includes projects that leverage academic learning to help local community-serving organizations build capacity. For example:

Sean Cleary’s Public Health Course Co-Designed by Local Autistics

Sean Cleary’s Public Health Course Co-Designed by Local Autistics

Professor: Sean Cleary

In PUBH 6299 The Autism Experience: A Public Health Perspective, the autism experience is explored through service-learning and community participatory research methods engaging autistic young adults, their parents, researchers, clinicians and other service providers. The course covers the science, viewpoints, and experience of autism with a focus on young adults transitioning to adulthood. Collaboratively with community advocates, students explore research relevant to the autistic community.

US Dream Academy

Maria Habib’s Graphic Design Students Develop Branding for Local Partners

Spring 2021

In CGD 2091: Design Studio II, students learn the iterative design processes used in developing a cohesive and comprehensive branding program (print, social media, and motion). Using a community centered design approach, student teams partnered with Rock Creek Conservancy, Free Minds Book Club, and the US Dream Academy to visually capture the values and spirit of these organizations.

Jamshidi and Habib’s Typography Students Create Designs for Free Minds Poetry Authors

Jamshidi and Habib’s Typography Students Create Designs for Free Minds Poetry Authors

Spring 2021

In Maria Habib and Sara Jamshidi’s CGD 2060: Typography IIcourses, students learn to consider issues like audience, meaning, visual hierarchy, and aesthetics in visual communications. These courses partner with Free Minds Book Club, and the participants of their poetry writing program,who are incarcerated youth, expressing themselves, sharing their stories and their perspectives. GW students created the graphic design for these poems, for both a print publication and a website.

SuJin Choi’s GW Teach Students Design and Teach STEM-Based Lessons for DC Middle Schools

SuJin Choi’s GW Teach Students Design and Teach STEM-Based Lessons for DC Middle Schools

Spring 2021

The GWTeach program is an academic minor that prepares students in STEM majors for teaching licensure in Washington, DC. In courses like GTCH 1002: Inquiry Based Lesson Design, students design, teach, and assess learning on a STEM lesson. Students engage directly in local classrooms, like McKinley Middle School and DC Preparatory Academy, mentored by a Master Teacher.

Erin Wentzell’s Physical Therapy Students Serve Virtually this Year

Erin Wentzell’s Physical Therapy Students Serve Virtually this Year

Summer 2021

In PT: 8481: Interprofessional Community Practicum, student teams work directly with partners like senior wellness centers, adaptive sports programs, and the National Park Service. Serving virtually this year, students researched relevant issues for their partners and created materials for distribution: exercise videos tailored to children in the Northern Virginia Riding Program, and infographics explaining exercises for older adults that can be done from home. One team identified a need for injury prevention for Special Olympics athletes and create instructional videos for warm-ups and stretching for their most popular sports.

 

 

Direct Service

In 2020-2021, 25% of course-based service fell into this category, which describes students engaging directly with members of the community. For example:

Sangeeta Prasad’s Students Connect Human Development Theory with Service Experiences

Sangeeta Prasad’s Students Connect Human Development Theory with Service Experiences

Spring 2021 

In HSSJ 2171: Child and Adolescent Development, students learn theories human development (psychosocial, cognitive, and others) while serving weekly with a local human service organization. This year, students served virtually, working with organizations like In the Streets and Marie Reed Elementary School, providing tutoring and mentoring to local youth through regular Zoom sessions.  

Tara Scully’s Biology Students Provide Virtual Nutrition Lessons to High School Students

Tara Scully’s Biology Students Provide Virtual Nutrition Lessons to High School Students

Fall 2020 

In BISC 1007: Food, Nutrition, and Service, students communicate the science of food and nutrition to community audiences. Serving virtually this year, students partnered with ARISE High School, creating learning activities they could facilitate over Zoom. GW students helped ARISE students conduct research projects on topics like food deserts, and the intersection of food and racism. 

Mary Buckley’s Women’s Leadership Program Students Mentor Girls through YWCA

Mary Buckley’s Women’s Leadership Program Students Mentor Girls through YWCA

2020-2021 

Many first-year students in GW’s Women’s Leadership Program served as weekly mentors in partnership with the YWCA as part of their Seminar course. In the fall semester, students identified creative ways to get to know their girls through virtual formats, including like attending virtual Open Mic Nights and exploring the Smithsonian Museum’s virtual tours together. In the spring semester, the mentors supported civic action projects with their mentees, helping them learn about local and national government. Projects addressed, for example, homelessness among women in DC, music education in schools, and a braille photo frame project. 

 

 

Community Organizing & Activism and Philanthropy

In 2020-2021, about 10% of course-based service engaged students in projects related to policy analysis, advocacy, raising public awareness, and organizing. For example:

Van der Veer and Walls’ Students Support Local Advocacy Efforts

Van der Veer and Walls’ Students Support Local Advocacy Efforts

2020-2021 

In Gretchen Van der Veer’s (Fall) and Erica Walls’ (Spring) HSSJ 1177: Organizing for Social Justice course, students partner with DC-area advocacy organizations while studying the strategies of activism and organizing. This year, student teams completed projects like a social media campaign for DC Action for Children, an advocacy toolkit for the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, and collected client testimonials and materials for a health literacy campaign. Leaders from these organizations joined the class throughout the semester as guest speakers, further connecting these projects to the course topics. 

chelsea, hilary and bill clinton seated on a stage

Michelle Kelso’s Students Operate Grant Program, Award $6,000 to Local Service Organizations

Spring, 2021 

HSSJ 4195 is the Capstone Seminar for Human Services & Social Justice majors. Students synthesize the knowledge, skills, and values needed to address complex real-world issues in socially just ways, with integration and reflection on the key theories and research. Working with the Learning by Giving Foundation (LxG), students operate their own philanthropy program, dispersing grant funding to local human service organizations. This work includes developing: selection criteria, the Call for Proposals, acquiring additional sources of funding, and collectively selecting the winning proposal. This year, students raised $1000 in additional funds when one student won a blog contest from LxG, and ultimately awarded $6000 to New Endeavors by Women and Charlie's Place.

Ebony Russ’ Students Partner with DC Police, Policymakers and Activists on Research, Organizing, and Policy Projects

Ebony Russ’ Students Partner with DC Police, Policymakers and Activists on Research, Organizing, and Policy Projects 

Spring, 2021 

In SOC 2189: Rethinking DC Youth and Policing, students were challenged to build authentic relationships with DC police, organizations, policymakers, and activists who are interested in improving the lived experiences of black and brown DC youth who may have a history of justice involvement. Students learned to develop and implement programs and recommend policies to address juvenile justice related issues. Specifically, student leaders developed the following initiatives: social media advocacy campaigns; School Resource Officer education and support initiatives; DC youth handcuffing policy revisions and recommendations; and an Anti-Human Trafficking campaign. 

 

 

In these courses, students partner with DC-area advocacy organizations while studying the strategies of activism and organizing. Projects included:a social media campaign for DC Action for Children, an advocacy toolkit for the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, and collectingclient testimonials and materials for a health literacy campaign. Leaders from these organizations joined the class throughout the semester as guest speakers, further connecting these projects to the course topics.

In this course, students were challenged to build authentic relationships with DC police, organizations, policymakers, and activists who are interested in improving the lived experiences of black and brown DC youth who may have a history of justice involvement. Students learned to develop and implement programs and recommend policies to address juvenile justice related issues. Specifically, student leaders developed the following initiatives: social media advocacy campaigns; School Resource Officer education and support initiatives; DC youth handcuffing policy revisions and recommendations; and an Anti-Human Trafficking campaign.

Philanthropy

At present, two courses at GW engage students in efforts to leverage financial support for community-serving organizations.

In this final course for HSSJ majors, students synthesize the knowledge, skills, and values needed to address complex real-world issues in socially just ways, with integration and reflection on the key theories and research. Working with the Learning by Giving Foundation (LxG), students operate their own philanthropy program, dispersing grant funding to local human service organizations. This work includes: establishing selection criteria, creating a Call for Proposals, identifying additional sources of funding, and discussing the merits of each proposal in order to collectively select the proposal to fund.This year, students decided to fund organizations that provide support for individuals experiencing homelessness in the DMV. They raised $1000 in additional funds when one student won a blog contest from LxG. The classultimately awarded $6000 to New Endeavors by Womenand Charlie's Place.