Fall 2021 Courses in Civic Engagement, Social Change, and the Study of Public Life

Looking for interdisciplinary classes that think outside the box? Want to go beyond theory and understand how academic concepts apply in real-world settings? Take a class with the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life! or Service-Learning!

CSPL 115 Diffusion of Innovation (FYS)

Sarah Ryan

This course will survey the broad field of “Diffusion of Innovations.” Through case studies from around the globe and discussions of diffusion theory, students will learn how innovations ranging from vaccines to the world’s largest particle accelerator gained acceptance through analog and digital communication. They will then design a strategy for disseminating an existing but under-appreciated scientific or technological innovation to United States adopters. This first year seminar course will also familiarize students with the methods used to collect, interpret, analyze, and present evidence in the social sciences, particularly in the field of communication.

CSPL 116 Good Books on Bad Wars (FYS)

Robert Cassidy 

This course explores war through some of the best books of theory, fiction, and nonfiction. The purpose of war is to achieve a policy that leads to a better peace after the war’s end than the peace that existed before the war began. But the nature of war is to serve itself if policy does not guide and constrain war. This course begins with discussion of the best foundational works of theory to build an understanding of the epistemology of war. The students will subsequently read, analyze, and discuss some of the best works of nonfiction and fiction on bad wars when judged by quality of strategy, magnitude of losses, or duration of fighting.

CSPL 200 Integrative Learning Project 1: Reflecting about the Liberal Arts 

Rachael Barlow

The Integrative Learning Project is a .50 credit course that allows students to learn to describe in a coherent and engaging narrative the various academic and non-academic activities, projects, and experiences that have been important for them while in college and to practice doing so for a variety of audiences (e.g. employers, graduate schools, etc.). Participants should be students who are interested in crafting a narrative about their personal and intellectual development, and who want to be able to talk about what skills they have cultivated during their time at Wesleyan and what they still want to learn.

CSPL 239: Startup Incubator: The Art and Science of Launching Your Idea

Rosemary Elizabeth Ostfeld

The Startup Incubator is a one-semester, experiential learning program designed to teach and enable student entrepreneurs to develop sustainable business models from their ideas.The program will bring together an ambitious, committed, and diverse group of individuals from all classes and majors who are passionate about developing successful solutions to challenges; identify as entrepreneurs, disruptors, and thought leaders; and have the tenacity, work ethic, and ability to succeed. All participating students should have a promising business idea and take the course with the intention of launching or running their own venture.

CSPL 250: An Introduction to Data Journalism

Stephen Busemeyer

This course is designed to familiarize students with the basic principles and tools of data journalism and to provide a wider understanding of the role of basic data analysis in society. To that end, the course will focus on developing a solid familiarity with basic data analysis and visualization software. It will also focus on developing the tools of journalism: retrieving public data, interviewing people and databases, and the basic principles of journalistic writing.

CSPL 480: Engaged Projects 

Makaela Kingsley

Engaged Projects (EPs) are rigorous, self-designed endeavors in which a student studies a topic of their choice and completes a final project intended for a non-academic audience. Students are encouraged but not required to select a topic that is connected to another class or their major. Final projects can take the form of blogs, videos, a website, or other media; a work of art, an event, a workshop, a presentation, or panel; a policy proposal or analysis; a white paper or op-ed series; a business plan; and/or any other piece(s) thoughtfully designed for the public.

CSPL 262: Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship 

Makaela Kingsley

In this project-based, cohort-style class, students will learn strategies for understanding social and environmental problems, and they will design interventions to create impact. Each student will select a topic to work on individually or as part of a team throughout the semester. Topics will include root cause analysis, ecosystem mapping, theory of change, human-centered design, business models, leadership and teamwork, impact metrics, storytelling, and more.

CSPL 316: Human Rights Advocacy: Critical Assessment and Practical Engagement in Global Social Justice 

Jim Cavallaro

The core animating principles and practices of human rights are under threat. Will the global human rights movement be able to respond effectively? How could or should the movement advance the cause of global social justice most effectively? This seminar seeks to answer these questions by assessing global rights defense and social justice practice and by engaging in structured, self-critical human rights advocacy.

DANC341: Dance Teaching Workshop: The Embodied Practice of Knowing 

Katja Kolcio 

This course familiarizes students with various methods and practices for teaching dance and movement to children and adults. Combining theoretical perspectives on education, dance, body/mind, and creativity together with hands-on practice teaching dance, students will gain practical skill in curriculum design and teaching while developing a personal philosophy on the role of dance in education and life. As part of this course, students will design and teach a dance class of their choice in the community (concurrent enrollment in Dance Teaching Practicum DANC447, 0.5 credit, required)

SOC 315: The Health of Communities 

Peggy Carey Best

Our focus will be on understanding the role of social factors (e.g., income, work environment, social cohesion, food, transportation systems) in determining the health risks of individuals; considering the efficacy, appropriateness, and ethical ramifications of various public health interventions; and learning about the contemporary community health center model of care in response to the needs of vulnerable populations. We explore the concept and history of social medicine, the importance of vocabulary and the complexity of any categorization of persons in discussions of health and illness, ethical issues related to the generation and utilization of community-based research, the role of place and the importance of administrative and cultural boundaries in the variability of health risk, and the idea of just health care. Enrolled students serve as research assistants to preceptors at the Community Health Center (CHC) of Middletown.

THEA 114: Incarcerated Stories: Documenting In/Justice

Ronald S Jenkins 

Students in “Incarcerated Stories: Documenting In/Justice” will collaborate with formerly incarcerated individuals and their families to create performances of theater and music based on interviews, trial transcripts, prison memoirs, and other texts related to mass incarceration. Students will learn how to apply their skills as writers, performers, or musicians to community service and activism as they learn about the United States’ criminal justice system and its position at the heart of systemic racism in America. The class will be taught remotely and the performances generated by the students and their formerly incarcerated collaborators will be disseminated as widely as possible, with the objective of amplifying marginalized voices to raise awareness of mass incarceration’s social impact and the need for carceral reform.

ENVS 376: The Artist in the Community: Civic Engagement and Collaborative Dancemaking 

Allison Diane Orr

This is a hybrid course in which we will combine theoretical analysis with practical application and project based-work. Students will explore how, in a collaborative community setting, performance and art-making can be used to address local issues, spark community dialogue, and encourage civic participation, and will consider the power dynamics and ethical issues that emerge. This hybrid course includes readings, seminar discussion, and community-engaged research, practice, and reflection. We will begin with an overview of artists who engage directly with communities, places, and environments, and we will explore new means of civic participation.