Fall 2019 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! 

You can see all CSPL courses here, and you can check out all Service Learning courses for Fall 2019 here.



CSPL 239 Startup Incubator: The Art and Science of Launching Your Idea
Rosemary 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. This course will feel like a combination of a college class and a rigorous startup incubator program. Success is a student using theories learned in class to validate their ideas by developing and accurately testing business assumptions, identifying and researching their target market, and pivoting to develop a sustainable business model
Sign up here: http://bit.ly/19incubator


CSPL 262 Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship
Makaela Kingsley

This is an intro-level crash course in social entrepreneurship. We will start by defining social entrepreneurship, then we will explore the tactics and tendencies of successful social entrepreneurs. We will partially incubate a real social enterprise, learning by doing. Each session will be a combination of lecture, group work/discussion, and in-class presentations. This course will be useful for students who want to think critically about how social change happens, launch their own projects or ventures, innovate solutions to social and environmental problems, hone their activism, and/or build practical skills. Although it is introductory level, it will be useful for students already involved with social impact organizations or entrepreneurial enterprises.

CSPL 267 Project-Based Learning Lab
Makaela Kingsley

Students will enroll in the Project-Based Learning Lab with a problem they want to address or an idea they want to build. Throughout the semester, we will build a toolbox for studying problems and designing solutions. Themes will include systems thinking, root cause analysis, ethical community research, human-centered design, lean prototyping, and data-driven evaluation. There will be an emphasis on humility, teamwork, oral communication, responsible partnership, and lean experimentation. Most students will complete the semester having launched a basic MVP (minimum viable product) and a road map for continuing to pursue their idea after the conclusion of the semester.

CSPL 277 Community Impact: Building Capacity to Support Educational Enrichment and Socio-Emotional  Development
Amy Grillo and Clifton Watson

In this half-credit course, students will build an intellectual and practical framework to guide their work in volunteer settings in the local community. What does it mean to “help?” How do we assess the needs of community partners and build the knowledge and skills that will allow us to address those needs? What do we need to know and understand about the people with whom we work? What does research have to say about effective tutoring techniques and practices? How can we design meaningful learning experiences? How can we maximize not only our impact in the community, but our own growth and learning?  
Note: students taking this course must be engaged in at least 80 minutes per week of community service in an educational setting throughout the semester and must complete this questionnaire before enrolling.
Please complete this application as soon as possible: https://forms.gle/ay9xaXGn1wbxriHJ7

CSPL 280 & CSPL 281 Nonprofit Boards: Theory and Practice
Clifton Watson

The Nonprofit Board Residency program is a .5 credit course that provides an opportunity for Wesleyan students to learn about the nonprofit sector and work closely with a local nonprofit board of directors. Students will attend board meetings and actively participate in a committee of the board while completing a project identified by the organization. Students will also meet weekly on campus with the instructor, Clifton Watson, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, for readings and discussions about the nonprofit sector, boards of directors, reflections on the experience and more. This course is POI and students must be willing to commit to the entire year.
Apply here by 4/15: https://forms.gle/9BRt6XwZX7Wdh7WS7

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. Among the issues considered in this seminar will be the following: What are the origins of the human rights movement? Has the movement been dominated by ideas from the West and elite organizations from the Global North? What does it mean to be a human rights activist? What is the role of documentation, legal advocacy, and social media in human rights advocacy? What are the main challenges and dilemmas facing those engaged in rights promotion and defense? Students will be required to write several short reflection papers. The final project will be an exercise in developing a human rights advocacy project or supervised engagement in actual human rights advocacy in conjunction with the University Network for Human Rights (humanrightsnetwork.org).

CSPL 317 Social and Political Perspectives on Digital Media
Lauren Rosewarne

This course examines the intersection between social media, politics, and society, analyzing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to understand their role in our lives, in our political discourse and in shaping our culture. We examine the positives of social media including social activism, the democratization of news, and heightened capacities for community, communication, and connectivity. We also delve into the darker side of these platforms, exploring the proliferation of fake news, hate speech, terrorist networks, and gendered issues including trolling and cyber harassment. This is an interdisciplinary course and in it we will draw upon a broad range of social theories including science and technology studies, communication theory, linguistics, cultural studies, and media studies to understand the complex role of digital media in contemporary society.

CSPL 323 Human Rights: Contemporary Challenges
Peter Rutland

This course will examine current controversies in U.S. and world politics with a focus on the options facing U.S. policy makers at the present juncture. We will explore the insights that social science can bring to topics such as: immigration policy, the refugee crisis in Europe, human rights and U.S. foreign policy, the federal deficit, Medicare for all, etc. Most weeks there will be a public lunch talk by a visiting speaker at noon on Thursdays, after which the speaker will hold a discussion with the class members.

DANC 376 Artist in the Community: Civic Engagement and Place-Based Dance Making
Katja Kolcio

Through both theoretical analysis and practical application, students will explore how, in a collaborative community setting, performance and art-making come into relationship with the local environment, history, and communities. This hybrid course includes readings, seminar discussion, project-based learning, and community engaged research and practice. We will gain an overview of artists who engage directly with communities, places and environments, and explore new means of civic participation. The class will work on a collaborative project based in Middletown area and history. For final projects, students will develop short, creative projects in collaboration with a site of their choosing.

EDST 310 Practicum in Education Studies
Amy Grillo

This seminar is intended to help students develop the skills to learn from experience in educational settings, through rigorous reflection, analysis, scholarly inquiry into educational questions, and action/implementation of new ideas. It is designed for students with previous coursework in education, experience in educational settings, or both. Students will be placed in a variety of educational settings in the community and each student will craft an independent study, with ongoing guidance from the professor and from the group, related to their placement. Class sessions will be seminar-style with students sharing and workshopping their studies and their practice. There will be group readings on aspects of education studies including reflective practice, classroom ethnography/teacher research, and observational techniques, but students will also develop individualized reading lists according to the focus of their independent study. In addition to ongoing written work in the form of analytic journals and critical reading synopses, students will complete an individualized final paper or project integrating their research and experience over the semester, and give a final presentation.

E&ES 280 Intro to GIS
Kim Diver

Geographical information systems (GIS) are powerful tools for organizing, analyzing, and displaying spatial data. GIS has applications in a wide variety of fields including the natural sciences, public policy, business, and the humanities–literally any field that uses spatially distributed information. In this course we will explore the fundamentals of GIS with an emphasis on practical application of GIS to problems from a range of disciplines. The course will cover the basic theory of GIS, data collection and input, data management, spatial analysis, visualization, and map preparation. Coursework will include lecture, discussion, and hands-on activities.

QAC 381 QAC Praxis Service Learning Lab
Jennifer Rose

As a service learning lab, this course provides students with an opportunity to further develop their abilities to analyze data and apply their knowledge and statistical computing skills as they work closely with nonprofit community partners on data analytic projects. Students in the course will identify research questions of interest to the community partner, gather and manage data, conduct statistical analyses, and interpret and summarize results. The service component involves providing statistical consulting to community partners by formulating and completing data analytic projects, the results of which may be used to improve services, identify areas requiring increased services and areas in which services can be made more efficient, as well as improving data collection, data reporting, and organizational functioning.

RELI 213 Refugees & Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora
Yaniv Feller

Recent years have seen the on-going tragic refugee crisis, with millions of people being displaced because of war and ecological disasters. That this crisis also has religious overtones is evident by the so-called travel ban in the United States or the rhetoric used by right wing leaders across Europe. This course deals with the meaning of refuge, exile, and diaspora through three perspectives: philosophical, historical, and literary. A variety of case studies–including the contemporary refugee crises in the Middle East, the black transatlantic, and the destruction of the temple in the Hebrew Bible–will raise for us various questions: What does it mean to be violently forced to leave one’s home? How is it possible to make sense of such a tragedy? What creative power can diaspora muster to the rescue of culture? This course is a Service Learning course in cooperation with WESU 88.1 FM Middletown. Each student’s final project will be a radio show based on an analysis of a selected refugee crisis.

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.

WRCT 202 Pedagogy for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Tutors
Elizabeth Hepford

This course offers an introduction to pedagogical techniques and theories for teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The class is ideal for students considering a career in K-12 education, as the number of students whose first language is not English is rising in the U.S. every year. Students enrolled in this course will gain practical experience by committing to volunteering at Middletown public schools while taking this course and are encouraged to continue their service afterward. There is a volunteering commitment of 2 hours/week minimum during the semester.