Community-Based Learning

Our Community-Based Learning courses send students all over the Philadelphia area to learn from their peers, their elders, from inmates and hospice patients. These courses are not service projects; they are opportunities for our students to grow as citizens, as professionals and as human beings as they learn from the perspectives and experiences of their fellow citizens.

Course Opportunities Summer 2015

Hospice Journaling (WRIT 304.130)

Hospice Journaling is a Hybrid Community-Based Course. Many people are scared of death. However, the last days of someone’s life are really a time to celebrate that life. In this class, you and a teammate will join together to create a Life Journal to help a hospice patient pass down their life experiences to their family and loved ones. You’ll let them know that what they’ve done really mattered. Along the way, you’ll learn how much you matter as well, as well as every single passing day of your life.

This course is taught by Ken Bingham, is designated open enrollment. For more information, contact the instructor at or call 215-350-0317.

Literature and Society (ENG 360)

War Stories: Violence and Resilience is a Side-by-Side Community-Based Course in which students explore war from the ground-level point of view of soldiers in combat. The focus will be non-fiction accounts of soldiers in battle. The class treats war stories as a form of literature that depicts the human struggle to survive and make meaning in extreme situations. Some course texts will be graphic, and there will be no attempt to minimize the violence and bloodshed that defines war. The class will also explore the aftermath of war and the challenges faced by veterans re-entering civilian society.

This course is taught by Robert Watts, is designated open enrollment. For more information, contact the instructor at or call 215-895-2441.

Course Opportunities Spring 2015

ST: Connections in Biology (BIO 480.002)

Connections in Biology is a Hybrid Community-Based Course. This is an open enrollment course that gives students the opportunity to make exactly that: connections. Building on a new theme in biology each week, students connect that material to their current Philadelphia community as well as to their future professional and personal pursuits. 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 class period on campus and one meeting will be at a partnered middle school with the instructor and Drexel students leading a nine-week after-school science club.

This course, taught by Monica Togna, PhD, is designated open enrollment and will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30 – 4:50 p.m. Location TBD. For more information, contact the instructor at

Techniques of Speaking (COM 230)

Techniques of Speaking is a Side-By-Side Community-Based Course for improving public speaking skills. COM 320 provides experience in speeches of explanation, persuasion and argument, and examines types of civic dialogue in an immersive learning environment. Students will create presentations around issues of social justice that are important to them and practice publically delivering those messages in front of a live audience. Speaking types explored will include speeches, public debates, and town hall or city council meetings. Homework will include attending a neighborhood meeting or other public presentation. Students will also learn how to identify the various methods speakers use to influence audiences.

This is not a typical classroom setting, as Drexel students will take class at the Dornsife Center with members of the surrounding community. COM 230 is taught by Danie Greenwell and will meet Mondays, 2 – 5 p.m. For more information, contact the instructor at

ST: Rhetoric of Style (COM 690.001/COM 400.001)

Rhetoric of Style is a Service-Learning Community-Based Course which will try to rehabilitate our commonly misunderstood notions of rhetoric and style by examining the relationship between figures of speech and figures of thought. In this community-based-learning course, students will consult with area non-profits for assessing and possibly improving the writing style of their documents.

This course, taught by Lawrence Souder, PhD, is open to all students who have passed ENGL 103 or ENGL 105, and will meet one evening a week from 6:30 – 9:20 p.m.

Prison, Society and You (CJS 261)

Prison, Society and You is an Inside-Out Community-Based Course which 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, this course seeks to deepen our conversations and transform the ways we think about crime and justice.

This course, taught by Cyndi Rickards, meets Thursdays, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Permission of instructor required for registration. Email for more information.

Philadelphia Stories (ENGL 360.001)

Philadelphia Stories is a Side-By-Side Community-Based Course in which students will read selections from fictional and nonfictional texts written by African American authors who have called Philadelphia their home, and whose work addresses issues of cultural identity and agency. Students will explore such themes as the legacy of slavery, urban violence, gender issues, and interracial relations. Authors studied will include: Elijah Anderson, MK Asante, Lorene Carey, Ayana Matthis, Sonia Sanchez and John Edgar Wideman, among others. Students will be asked to respond to the readings both in an analytical and a personal way, reflecting on the connections between the texts and their own experiences.

This course, taught by Gabriella Ibieta, PhD, will meet Mondays, 5 – 7:50 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. For more information, contact

History of Philadelphia (HIST 276.001)

History of Philadelphia is a Side-By-Side Community-Based Course. As the twentieth century recedes further into memory, our sense of the past and our methods of exploring it are further evolving. This course will invite students to consider the distant and recent past of the City of Philadelphia, with particular emphasis on West Philadelphia, the Black Bottom, and the African-American diaspora. Further, students will be exposed to contemporary trends in public history and art as “social practice,” in particular, interdisciplinary efforts to commemorate the individuals and spaces that define the twentieth century U.S. urban experience.

Students will develop the skills necessary to plan and conduct archival research; interpret primary and secondary historical sources; conduct oral histories; and experiment with available models in the emerging field of digital humanities. Students will further be asked to consider ways in which historical material, and content of immediate local relevance, can be shared with a broad, non-professional audience, and the role residents play in authoring their own history.

This course, will be taught by Patrick Grossi, MA, and will meet on Tuesdays from 5 – 7:50 p.m. Location TBD.

What Students Are Saying About Community-Based Learning

"As an anthropology major, I gained a great deal of real research experience and learned a great deal about core sociological concepts. The elements found in a community-based learning course taught me about the background of the issues I was working with. 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, '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, 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, Talk'n the Walk Course

"I loved this class. I enjoyed being of campus and with a diverse group of students." -- Student, Talk'n the Walk Course

"The opportunities offered in community-based learning at Drexel were the most rewarding and significant aspects of my education. They 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, '11