Fall 2017 Service-Learning Courses

Interested in taking a Service-Learning course next year? These courses will be offered in Fall 2017, and more are available in the spring. Contact the individual professors or Peggy Carey Best, Director for Service Learning, with any questions. 

Seminar on Astronomical Pedagogy (ASTR 430)
Cross-listed with the Civic Engagement Certificate and the Study of Education Certificate. Meets Wednesdays 12:20-1:10 pm.

Methods for effectively teaching astronomy at all levels from general public outreach to college level will be discussed. In this course, students learn how to present complex astronomical topics to a general audience in a way that is accessible, understandable, and interesting, and do so in weekly Space Nights open to the general public.


Informal Science Education for Elementary School Students I (CHEM241)
Cross-listed with the Civic Engagement Certificate and the Study of Education Certificate. Meets Tuesdays 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.


Neuroplasticity: How Experience Changes The Brain (NS&B 360)
Cross-listed with Biology, the Civic Engagement Certificate, and the Writing Certificate. Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:50-4:10 pm.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change throughout life. In this course, we’ll examine functional and structural plasticity of the brain. Functional plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to move functions from a damaged area of the brain to other undamaged areas. Structural plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change its physical structure, as a result of learning or to reorganize itself by forming new connections, strengthening existing connections, or pruning away old synaptic connections. We’ll examine critical periods in development when sensory experiences change and sculpt the wiring of the brain, how exercise and diet influence adult neurogenesis and cognition, and how neural activity regulates structural plasticity and gene programs. This is a writing intensive course and students will analyze the readings by discussions and writing assignments including: blogs, short reviews, and commentaries. Students will have opportunities for extensive feedback on their writing and revisions.


Current Research in Early Childhood (PSYC 328)
Cross-listed with the Civic Engagement Certificate. Meets Mondays 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.


The Health of Communities (SOC 315)
Cross-listed with SISP and the Civic Engagement Certificate. Meets Wednesdays 1:20-4:10 pm. 

Our focus will be on understanding the role of social factors (such as income, work environment, social cohesion, food, and 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.