Spring 2017 Service-Learning Courses

Working on your pre-reg list? Want the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom through meaningful community service, in addition to guided instruction with peers in the classroom? Consider enrolling in a service-learning course!

As a reminder, all service-learning courses may count towards the Civic Engagement Certificate.

Living in a Polluted World (ENVS 361) – cross-listed with E&ES and the Environmental Studies Certificate, taught by Professor Johan Varekamp (T/R, 8:50-10:10 am)

The modern natural world has become polluted with uncountable numbers of organic and inorganic compounds, some with unspeakable names, others simple toxic elements. This worldwide contamination is the result of our extensive use of natural resources, large-scale fossil fuel burning, and the creation of many synthetic compounds. Many of the polluting substances endanger human health and may impact ecosystems as well. Most pollutants will travel along aqueous pathways, be they rivers, groundwater, or oceans. In this course we will track the sources and pathways of pollutants such as As, Hg, Pb, Cu, Cr; nutrient pollutions such as nitrate and phosphate; and a suite of organic pollutants. We will discuss both the main industrial and natural sources of these pollutants, their chemical pathways in the environment, and how they ultimately may become bioavailable and then enter the food chain. We will look at full global pollutant cycles and highlight recent shifts in industrial emitters, e.g., from the U.S. to China over the last few years. We will discuss the toxic nature of each pollutant for humans, ways of monitoring environmental exposure to these toxins, and possible ways of protection and remediation.

The course will consist of lectures with some lab classes. Students will collect materials (waters, sediment from lakes or wetlands), which will then be analyzed for Hg, Pb, Cr and Cu as well as several other components to understand the cycling of these trace metals in the natural environment. We will also collect hair and nail samples of class members to look at their toxic exposure histories. We will use the new E&ES X-ray Fluorescence facility for some of the analyses as well as the full suite of wet chemical equipment for water analyses.


America in Prison: Theater Behind Bars (THEA 115) – cross-listed with AMST, taught by Professor Ronald Jenkins (M, 5:10-10:10 pm); open to first-year students!

This course will give students the opportunity to study theater as a tool for social activism and to apply that knowledge to practical work in institutions that are part of the American criminal justice system. No previous experience in theater is necessary. Students will be encouraged to use their own skills in music, art, and drama as they devise ways to use the arts as catalysts for individual and social transformation.

The Theater Department organizes a variety of performances for students enrolled in its courses. Field trips to see performances off campus are integrated into course syllabi. Instructors will notify students of all dates at the beginning of the semester and costs for all course field trips are covered (specifically, transportation to and from the performance and tickets).


Community Research Seminar (SOC 316) – cross-listed with ENVS and the Environmental Studies Certificate, taught by Professor Rob Rosenthal (M/W, 10:50 am-12:10 pm)

Small teams of students will carry out research projects submitted by local community groups and agencies. These may involve social science, natural science, or arts and humanities themes. The first two weeks of the course will be spent studying the theory and practice of community research. Working with the community groups themselves, the teams will then move to design and implementation of the research projects.

This seminar offers a unique opportunity for juniors and seniors to engage in both the theory and practice of community-based research, working in partnership with local organizations to design and implement research projects that benefit both the organization and the community at large. The nature of this course encourages the participation of students from all majors who share a commitment to the practical idealism included in our university’s mission statement, and a passion for research, problem-solving, and community engagement.


European Intellectual History Since the Renaissance (HIST 216L) – cross-listed with COL 332L, taught by Professor Cecilia Miller (T/R, 2:50-4:10 pm); open to first-year students!

This class will examine some of the major texts in Western thought since the Renaissance. Emphasis will be placed on close reading and analysis of the texts.

This course is designed for Service Learning. Students in this course will read short selections about Aging, meet with a specific senior citizen to talk about the books we are reading for class (5 times in the semester), and write 2-page papers responding to those meetings. Otherwise, both History 216L and History 216 will have the same class requirements.


Current Research in Early Childhood (PSYC 328) – taught by Professor Anna Shusterman (T, 7:10-10:00 pm)

Early childhood is widely seen as a time when the environment exerts particularly strong influences on individuals, with large effects on children’s risk or resilience for healthy developmental outcomes. Research in this area provides a way to consider and evaluate claims about this developmental period. What knowledge does society need about this period to promote healthy development for all children? Where do children learn social skills? Why do children play with some toys but not others? How does timing affect the impact of early interventions? What foundational skills help all children learn to read? By what mechanisms does economic poverty affect development?

This advanced seminar will explore current research in early childhood. We will focus on the period from birth to five years, drawing on empirical work in developmental psychology, cognitive science, and education to discuss major topics and debates. These include cognitive and academic foundations for later schooling; emotional development and social skills; social identity and sense of self; self-regulation and executive functions; play; adverse factors in development; risk, resilience, and vulnerability; culture, socioeconomic status, and poverty; developmental neuroscience; early childhood education; and public policy. Guest visits by experts in some of the areas will complement our readings and discussions.


Computational Media: Videogame Design and Development (CIS 250) – cross-listed with FILM 250, COMP 350, the Environmental Studies Certificate, and the Informatics & Modeling Certificate, taught by Professor Christopher Weaver (T, 1:10-4:10 pm)

This course examines the interplay of art and science in the development of contemporary video games using “game tool” applications to achieve a variety of purposes. It combines a detailed understanding of computational media, including legal and commercial aspects, with hands-on experience in the creative process. There will be discussions with invited industry leaders in various subject areas. Students will have the opportunity to work as part of development teams and create working prototypes to understand the challenges and rewards of producing video games in a professional context.

Due to the working prototype requirement of the course, anticipate evenings and weekends for “lab time”. In addition, there will be one or two field trips with the class to visit local schools with younger children in order to get useful feedback of practical use to compare against assumptions of use. These feedback exercises are an important component for students to better understand and appreciate the importance of research and designing for a specific audience.

Students will need to commit a significant amount of outside class “lab” time to participate in group meetings during the process of development and completion of the class demo projects. Self-directed teams will meet regularly and invest the appropriate time and active participation necessary to support fellow members of their team to stay on schedule. A minimum expectation for such additional time will be no less than 4-6 hours per week.


Informal Science Education for Elementary School Students II (CHEM 242) – cross-listed with the Study of Education Certificate, taught by Professors Andrea Roberts and Greg Voth (T, 4:25-5:55 pm)

A service-learning course that will focus on designing and implementing original, effective, and engaging science-based lesson plans for elementary age children in an afterschool program setting at five local elementary schools. The classroom component includes writing, testing, and critiquing lesson plans and organizing a once-a-semester event, Science Saturday. Members of the class are required to volunteer weekly, co-lead Science Saturday, complete individual work, and organize meetings for projects outside of class. This course is a continuation of CHEM241.

Participants will be evaluated on the basis of the activities they develop, participation in classroom discussions, active participation in weekly volunteer work as well as Science Saturday and completion of other classroom assignments. Permission of instructor will give preference to persons who have volunteered with Wesleyan Science Outreach. Entry into the class requires a substantial background in science and experience working with children.