Community-Based Learning Courses

Community-Based Learning (CBL) courses connect students and faculty directly with local communities and their members as part of the content of the course. The following CBL courses are being offered during Fall 2016:

Fall 2016 CBL Courses

​ECON 032/ENGR 057 Operations Research This course introduces students to mathematical modeling and optimization to solve complex, multivariable problems such as those relating to efficient business and government operations, environmental pollution control, urban planning, and water, energy, and food resources. Includes a semester-long practicum called the Case Study Project.  Students have the opportunity to apply the modeling methods learned in the course to a real-world problem.  Usually, several students in the course choose to apply computer simulation and optimization models to significant problems in the local communities. McGarity, 1 credit.

EDUC 021 01/PSYC 021 Educational Psychology This course focuses on issues in learning and development that have particular relevance to understanding student thinking. Research and theoretical work on student learning and motivation provide the core readings for the course. In addition, students participate in a laboratory section that involves consideration of learning and motivation in an integrated, interdisciplinary public school classroom and provides an introduction to research methods. Required for students pursuing teacher certification.  Renninger, 1 credit.

EDUC 023A. Adolescents and Special Education In this half credit attachment to EDUC 023, Adolescence, students will focus on meeting the needs of diverse adolescent learners. In particular, students will examine the unique pyschosocial interactions between adolescents receiving special education services, their parents and the educators who work with them. Students will also explore strategies for addressing specific cognitive and academic needs of these adolescents in literacy, content area learning, and transitions out of school. Course includes a field placement. Required for students pursuing secondary teacher certification. Available as credit/no credit only. Prerequisite: EDUC 026/PSYC 026 (can be taken concurrently) or permission of the instructor. Corequisite: EDUC 023 can be taken concurrently with EDUC 023A. Linn, 0.5 credit.

EDUC/PSYC 026 Special Education: Issues and Practice This course is designed to provide students with a critical overview of special education, including history, the classification and description of exceptionalities, and its legal regulation. Major issues related to identification, assessment, educational and therapeutic interventions, psychosocial aspects, and inclusion are examined. Course includes a field placement. Required for students pursuing teacher certification. Linn, 1 credit.

EDUC 093 Practice Teaching This course involves supervised full-time teaching in either secondary or elementary schools for students pursuing teacher certification. Students pursuing certification must take EDUC 093 concurrently. (Single-credit practice teaching may be arranged for individuals not seeking certification.) Staff, 2 credits.

ENVS 004. Sustainable Community Action This course explores the theories and methods of social action and community engagement focusing on social and environmental change. Drawing on the work of scholars and activists from a wide variety of disciplines in the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities, we critically examine the conceptual divisions between “nature and society,” “knowledge and action,” the “local and the global,” and the “community and the planet.” We will analyze the history and diffusion of the widely used concept of “sustainability” focusing on the diverse ways it has been embraced, transformed, and implemented in different social and cultural contexts. Exploring the relationship between theory and practice, the course includes a community-based learning component working in collaboration with a local organization or action research project. 1 credit, Di Chiro.

LING 025. Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Language, Culture, and Society (SOCI40B) This course is a hands-on, fun introduction to sociolinguistics and the study of the social life of language. Reflecting on our own experiences, we address questions like: What is a dialect? How does language change spread within a community and between communities? What effects do social media and popular television and film series have on interpersonal communication? How do factors such as age, gender, and race influence the way we perceive language use by others? In investigating the answers to these questions, students read primary sources, collect their own original data, and critically analyze language use across a range of contexts. 1 credit, Thomas.

LING 095 01 Community-Service Credit: Literacy and Hard-of-Hearing or Deaf People This course offers credit for community service work. Students have two options. First, they may work with children on literacy skills in a mainstream environment or a bilingual-bicultural program, locally or in greater Philadelphia area. Second, they may work on bilingual-bimodal ebooks for deaf children. 0.5 or 1 credit, Napoli.

POLS 043B. Environmental Justice: Theory and Action Examines historical, political, and activist roots of the field of environmental justice. Using interdisciplinary approaches from political ecology, environmental science, history, geography, cultural studies, and social movement theory, we analyze diverse environmental justice struggles and community activism in contemporary environmental issues such as: air quality and health, toxic contamination and reproductive issues, sustainable agriculture and food security, fossil energy—coal, oil, hydro-fracking—and livelihoods, climate change and climate justice. Course incorporates a community-based learning component.1 credit, Di Chiro.

SOCI 048L. Urban Crime and Punishment (Inside-Out Exchange Course) This course takes a sociologically based yet interdisciplinary approach to the study of the politics of crime and the criminal justice system in U.S. cities. We investigate the origins of the politics of law and order from mid-twentieth century to today, against a broader backdrop of macrostructural changes in the social, economic, and political landscape including but not limited to urban de-industrialization and suburbanization. Using Philadelphia neighborhoods as our site of study, this course will analyze the relationship between urbanity, criminality, and spatial inequality, emphasizing the institutions, processes, and mechanisms that shape the lives of urban dwellers. We will survey major theoretical approaches and empirical investigations of politics, crime, and stratification in cities, their concomitant policy considerations, and the impact at the local level in Philadelphia. Readings and in-class discussions will be supplemented by experiences in the field and guest speakers drawn from organizations involved in the crime/criminal justice system. Johnson, 1 credit.


EDUC 023. Adolescence (cross-listed as PSYC 023) In this course, students examine adolescent development from psychological, sociological, and life-span perspectives, reading both traditional theory and challenges to that theory that consider issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. During the first part of the term, students explore various aspects of individual development (i.e. cognitive, affective, physiological, etc.). The second part focuses on the adolescent’s experience in a range of social context (e.g. family, peer group, school, etc.). Required for students pursuing secondary teacher certification. Prerequisite: EDUC 014 or permission of the instructor. 1 credit, Nelson.

EDUC 042. Teaching Diverse Young Learners This course explores the ways children learn in classrooms and construct meaning in their personal, community, and academic lives. The course is framed by theories of learning as transmissionist, constructivist, and participatory. Students will draw on ethnographies, research, their own learning histories, classroom observations, positioning as novice learners to create optimal learning environments for diverse learners including but not limited to English language learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, culturally non mainstream students, students with learning differences and disabilities, and students with socioemotional classifications. Course includes fieldwork. Required for elementary certification. 1 credit, Bradley.

EDUC 048. Ethnic Studies and Education

EDUC/LING 053.  Language Minority Education This course examines the multifaceted issues facing English learners in U.S. schools. Course topics include theories of second language acquisition and bilingualism, the history of bilingual education in the United States, educational language policies and the impact of the English-only movement, and practical approaches to teaching linguistic minority students. Course readings draw from relevant literature in sociolinguistics, language policy, language acquisition, educational anthropology, and language pedagogy. Through fieldwork and small group projects, students have the opportunity to explore issues particular to a language minority population of their choice. Required for students pursuing teacher certification. Prerequisite: EDUC 014 or permission of the instructor. Allard, 1 credit. 

EDUC 065. Educational Research for Social Change In this course, students explore the potential for classroom, school, and educational change through research. Students will learn how to design a qualitative study in education, engaging in the processes of defining a research question, examining relevant literature, choosing appropriate methods for data collection, and analyzing data. Students may (if they take the course for a full credit) become part of an ongoing “professional community” of Philadelphia teachers who are exploring what constitutes teacher leadership, how teacher networks can contribute to individual and institutional development and renewal, and how locally based educational research can play a part in student, teacher, school and educational development. Strongly recommended (.05) for special majors in Educational Studies who will complete a 1 or 2 credit thesis. Prerequisite: EDUC 014 or permission of the instructor. 0.5 or 1 credit, Allard.

EDUC 068. Urban Education (Cross-listed as SOAN 020B) This course examines issues of practice and policy, including financing, integration, compensatory education, curricular innovation, parent involvement, bilingual education, high-stakes testing, comprehensive school reform, governance, and multiculturalism. The special challenges faced by urban schools in meeting the needs of individuals and groups in a pluralistic society will be examined using the approaches of education, psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics. Current issues will also be viewed in historical perspective. This course includes fieldwork. 1 credit, Liu.

ENGL 070L/EDUC 073. Creative Writing Outreach Where do arts, education, and activism meet? In this course students will explore artistic affinities through creative writing activities and consider arts education and advocacy through diverse texts. Students will cultivate skills necessary to becoming Teaching Artists in imaginative writing at the elementary level through coursework as well as through volunteer placement in local schools. Topics covered include: creative curriculum development and presentation, educational climate for grades K-5 and teaching pedagogy. Browne, 1 credit.

MUSI 014. Harmony, Counterpoint, and Form 4 This course provides continued work in chromatic harmony and 18th-century counterpoint, largely as practiced in Europe. It will primarily take the form of a literature survey. For the first half of the semester, our focus will be on short pieces; during the second part of the semester we will study keyboard fugues and other larger-scale works. This course includes a service-learning project. All MUSI 014 students must register for an appropriate level of MUSI 040D for 0 or 0.5 credit. Keyboard skills lessons may also be required for some students. Levinson, 1 credit. 

PEAC 071B / POLS 081 / SOCI 071B. Research Seminar: Strategy and Nonviolent Struggle This one-credit research seminar involves working and updating the Global Nonviolent Action Database which is accessed by activists and scholars worldwide at The database was built at Swarthmore College and includes cases of “people power” drawn from dozens of countries. It contains crucial information on campaigns for human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability, economic justice, national/ethnic identity, and peace. Students will be expected to research a series of cases of nonviolent campaigns and write them up in two ways: within a template of fields (the database proper) and also as a 2-3 page narrative that describes the unfolding struggle. In addition to research/writing methods, students will also draw on theories in the field. Strategic implications for today will be drawn from theory and from what the group learns from the documented cases of wins and losses experienced by people’s struggles.

POLS 070B. Politics of Punishment The question of why the United States has become a vastly more punitive society – some 2.3 million Americans are held in jails and prisons throughout this country, at last count – is the subject of this upper-level division seminar. The aim of the seminar is to provide both a critical and in-depth exploration of the interplay among American electoral politics, public concerns regarding crime, and criminal justice policy. Among the central questions we will examine are: How is it that so many Americans are either locked up behind bars or under the supervision of the criminal justice system? And where di the idea of using “jails” and “prisons” as instruments of social and crime control come from? What explains the racial and class differences in criminal behavior and incarceration rates? What does it mean to be poor, a person of color and in “jail” or “prison”? How and why does criminal justice policy in this country have its roots in both the media culture and political campaigns? And how might “politics” underpin what is known as “felon disenfranchisement” or “prison-based gerrymandering?” What are the implications of such political prospects for reform of America’s incarceration complex? 1.5 credits, Reeves. Enrollment only by permission of the instructor.
POLS 106. The Urban Underclass and Public Policy
This seminar is a critical examination of some of the most pressing (and contentious) issues surrounding the nation’s inner cities today and the urban underclass: the nature, origins, and persistence of ghetto poverty; racial residential segregation and affordable public housing; social organization, civic life, and political participation; crime and incarceration rates; family structure; adolescent street culture and its impact on urban schooling and social mobility; and labor force participation and dislocation. We conclude by examining how these issues impact distressed urban communities, such as the neighboring city of Chester. 2 credits, Reeves.

RELG 027. Radical Jesus This class is a discussion-intensive, student-led exercise in the critical study of Jesus that centers on analytical reading and writing; contemplative practice; and community action. Beginning with the joyous and terrifying Gospel of Mark, and the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, and continuing with the rise of Constantine, Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, and Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor,” this class theologically analyzes Jesus today as the mystic-prophet revolutionary who, alternately, is “the first and last Christian” (Friedrick Nietzsche), “the preacher of Christian atheism” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer), “the face of divine affliction” (Simone Weil), “my great brother” (Martin Buber), “the advocate for the disinherited” (Howard Thurman), “the God within each of us” (Thich Nhat Hanh), “the prophet of simplicity” (Shane Claiborne), and “the liberating Corn Mother” (George Tinker). Wallace, 1 credit.
RELG 011. First-Year Seminar: Religion and the Meaning of Life “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will save it.” One of the most intriguing contradictions in comparative religious studies is the claim that only when one forfeits the self can one discover genuine selfhood; the journey to the true self begins by first abandoning one’s assumptions about selfhood through practicing the disciplines of self-emptying and self-giving. In this seminar, we will analyze the collapse of the received notions of the stable self in classical thought and then move toward a postmodern recovery of the self-that-is-not-a-self founded on the spiritual practice of solicitude for the other. Readings may include Plato, Augustine, Rumi, Kierkegaard, Weil, Nishitani, Bonhoeffer, Levinas, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Dillard. This discussion-rich seminar includes regular student presentations and a community service-learning component. Ross, 1 credit.
SOAN 020M/ENGL 089. Race, Gender, Class and Environment
This course explores how ideologies and structures of race, gender, sexuality, and class are embedded in and help shape our perceptions of and actions in the “environment.” Drawing on key social and cultural theories of environmental studies from anthropology, sociology, feminist analysis, and science and technology studies, we will examine some of the ways that differences in culture, power, and knowledge construct the conceptual frameworks and social policies undertaken in relation to the environment. The course draws on contemporary scholarship and social movement activism (including memoir and autobiography) from diverse national and international contexts. Topics addressed include, for example, ideas/theories of “nature,” toxic exposure and public health, environmental perception and social difference, poverty and natural resource depletion, justice and sustainability, indigenous environmentalisms, eco-imperialism, and disparate impacts of global climate change. The course offers student opportunities for community-based learning working in partnership with local organizations. DiChiro, 1 credit.