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.
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:
Professor: Wendy Wagner
BADM 4001 is an experiential learning course completed by all GWSB students. The Nashman Center hosts one course section, with opportunities for students to work with local nonprofit and public service organizations, leveraging their business skills to contribute to these organizations’ capacity to serve our community and address social change.Students use marketing, project management, data analysis, and other business skills to help community partners build capacity and impact.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2020-2021, 25% of course-based service fell into this category, which describes students engaging directly with members of the community. For example:
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.
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.
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.
In 2020-2021, about 10% of course-based service engaged students in projects related to policy analysis, advocacy, raising public awareness, organizing, andfinancial support for social change. For example:
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.
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.
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.