Spring 2020 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, the Civic Engagement Certificate, or Service Learning

You can see all CSPL courses here, and you can check out all Service Learning courses (including 6 brand new courses!) for Spring 2020 here.



AFAM 307 Black Middletown Lives: The Future of Middletown’s African American Past
Jesse Nasta

In this service learning course, students will do hands-on history by uncovering, preserving, and sharing Middletown’s rich African American past. We will focus on the history of the Beman Triangle. This African American neighborhood, now part of Wesleyan’s campus, served as a regional and national antislavery and Underground Railroad center and home to one of the nation’s first handful of independent Black churches.

CSPL 235 Activism and Social Change
Leslie Gabel-Brett

In this course we will explore strategies and theories of change that shape social justice movements, with particular reference to recent movements in the United States. We will discuss the benefits and risks of the many available strategies including direct action, grassroots mobilization, impact litigation, legislative campaigns, electoral campaigns, artistic protest, and public education.

CSPL 237 Communicate for Good: Public Speaking and Persuasion for Social Mobilization and Change
Sarah Ryan

The world needs more…democracy, justice, equality, civility, love. Diagnosing that need is only the first step in changing society. To achieve social good, you must persuade your fellow citizens that the change is worthwhile and the path to change is worth it. In this public speaking and persuasion seminar, you will learn how to communicate for good.

CSPL 257 System Mapping for Social and Environmental Impact
Makaela Kingsley

In recent years, growing interest in social entrepreneurship has pushed students to “solve” complex social and environmental problems with new ventures of their own design. Unfortunately, this approach often overlooks a critical foundation of social change: understanding the root causes of problems and the contexts that surround them before seeking solutions.

CSPL 281 Nonprofit Boards: Theory and Practice II
Clifton Watson

This course will focus on the nonprofit sector, with special emphasis on the role of nonprofit boards of directors. As part of the course, students will work directly with a local nonprofit–students will participate as a non-voting member of the board of directors and complete a board-level project for the organization.
While this is a two-part course, the Spring section has 2 openings for interested students. Please apply here.

CSPL 341G Case Studies in Educational Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Anna Shusterman

Entrepreneurship, innovation, and reform are a defining part of the fabric of K-12 education in the US and other places, presenting opportunities and risks. Each week we will be visited by one or more experts who have led or studied innovative or entrepreneurial projects in the education sector.

DANC 341 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.

EDST 230 Schools in Society
Amy Grillo

What role have schools played in the evolution of American Society? What role could/should they play, going forward? This course takes a topical approach to these questions. We will explore the relationship between schools, democracy, and social progress; take a close look at race and racism in America’s schools; learn how schools work in terms of policy, governance, and funding; and critically analyze the effects of many waves of educational “reform,” including the current movement towards school privatization.

MUSC 463 Teaching Music Lessons to Children in Local Schools
David Nelson

This is a service-learning course. Wesleyan students will teach private and small group music lessons to local children in an appropriate venue. These sessions will be augmented by a weekly classroom session in which readings and the student teachers’ journals will be discussed.

PSYC 202 Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology
Jill Morawski

The goal of the course is to introduce students to basic research strategies for investigating human thought and behavior, with a focus on qualitative methods. The course provides detailed introduction to different qualitative methods, including interview, observation, case study, content analysis, archival, life history, and narrative techniques.

PSYC 266 Psychology of Communities: Identity, Activism, and Social Engagement
H. Shellae Versey

This course serves as an introduction to community psychology. Students will read about, research, and discuss major topics in the field, including the ecological framework, diversity paradigms, social change, and empowerment.

PSYC 399 Advanced Research in Gambling, Drugs, and Junk Food
Mike Robinson

This advanced laboratory course provides in-depth training in the experimental methods of behavioral neuroscience of motivation and reward and provides students with hands-on experience with animal research using rodent models. In addition, the course contains a service learning component in which students will work to develop a brief presentation/talk on a topic related to gambling, eating disorders, or drug addiction.

RL&L 223 Second Language Pedagogy – Teaching Romance Languages
Louise Neary

The course is intended for students who may be considering a career in education. Students will search for authentic language materials, and will evaluate, adapt, and create pedagogical materials. By the end of the semester, they will have created a portfolio of activities that can be used in a foreign language classroom. In this service learning course, students are required to volunteer a minimum of two hours per week in the Middletown Public Schools, assisting French and Spanish teachers, and will write weekly journal entries reflecting on their classroom experience.

THEA 115 America in Prison: Theater Behind Bars
Ronald Jenkins

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.