An increasing number of professors across several Georgetown undergraduate departments are working in conjunction with the Center for Social Justice to incorporate a community-based learning aspect into their courses. The CBL program allows professors to offer an optional extra credit for students who apply the content learned in class to service opportunities in D.C.
“Since I got here to Georgetown in the fall of 2007… I’ve been very active with the folks in the CSJ and active in promoting CBL. I know that those of us who do it are trying to encourage other professors to try this out because it is such a high-impact learning experience for the students,” said sociology professor Sarah Stiles, whose course has offered a CBL option for two semesters now.
This semester, Stiles worked in conjunction with Georgetown Law professor Anthony Cook to pair students of her Law and Society course with law students working with non-profit organizations based in D.C.
“The whole point of community-based learning is that it complements the traditional academic work that students do with the reading, writing, analyzing, and then they actually get to go out into D.C., to work with people in the community and understand how this plays out,” Stiles said.
Another department that is seeking to expand its involvement with the community is the Spanish department. Amanda Munroe, Social Justice Curriculum and Pedagogy Coordinator for the CSJ, and Andria Wisler, director of the CSJ, are working with faculty to incorporate a CBL component into two Spanish courses.
“The collaboration is a great experience for my students, as they have the opportunity to put into practice the lesson plans and language activities they create as part of their homework for my course,” Spanish professor Cristina Sanz wrote in an email to the Voice. Her Spanish Teaching course, which collaborates with a magnet D.C. public school, will become an official CBL course next semester.
“Since a lot of community work that students do is with the Spanish-speaking population here in D.C., specifically the newcomer or immigrant population, it’s a natural fit to have Spanish courses have community-based learning components,” Wisler said.
Other courses officially adding the CBL component include MSB professor Robert Bies’s Courage and Moral Leadership and Denise Brennan’s Migration, Labor, and Rights anthropology seminar. The CSJ’s recognition of CBL courses allows them to facilitate transportation and ease the financial burden of routine procedures that some organizations require of students.
Georgetown student service will not be limited to Washington, D.C. In June 2014, students will have the opportunity to travel to Italy to immerse in intensive Italian and to work with the community of L’Alquila, a city ravaged by an earthquake in 2009 that left a majority of its population homeless.