Fall 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! or Service-Learning! 

You can see all CSPL courses here, and you can check out all Service Learning courses for Fall 2020 here. 

If you’re interested in courses related to the upcoming election – check out the E2020 course page


CSPL 211 Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: Legal Advocacy for Disabled Veterans
Sarah Ryan
In-person with remote students

The public rarely understands what it takes to fight for one’s legal rights or benefits. Good writers can translate those battles in ways that teach, empower, and (re)build community support for struggling individuals. This course is a study in the translation of legal challenges into civic advocacy.

CSPL 217 Civil Rights Litigation Since 1978: A Practitioner’s Perspective
Michael Sussman

This course will examine major themes in modern civil rights litigation in the United States between 1978 and 2020. The course will review major cases challenging police misconduct, school segregation and housing segregation, including exclusionary land use policies, sexual harassment, and bullying, as well as cases supporting voting and gay rights.

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.

CSPL 263 Refugees in World Politics
Carla Abdo-Katsipis

The primary objective of this course is to provide students with i) an introductory overview of the political, economic, social, and security determinants of refugee flows; and ii) the political and social responses of receiving governments and societies to them. Using both historical and contemporary case studies, this course will highlight security concerns engendered by internal displacement and transnational migration. These include armed conflict, smuggling, trafficking, and terrorism. This course will also highlight the concepts of citizenship in receiving states, and the roles played by the international institutions in influencing state policies towards refugees.

CSPL 316 Human Rights Advocacy: Critical Assessment and Practical Engagement in Global Social Justice
Jim Cavallaro
In-person only

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.

CSPL 399 Understanding the 2020 Presidential Election
Jim Stoehr

In understanding the 2020 Presidential Election, students will learn how to read skeptically the political press and how to write critically about presidential campaign politics. Along the way, the course will touch on electoral history, political and social thought, public policy, media criticism, and much more.

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.

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.

ENVS 361 Living in a Polluted World
Johan Varekamp

This course treats the occurrences and origins, natural pathways, toxicologies, and histories of the major environmental contaminants. We all know about lead and its effects on humans, but how about cadmium and hexachromium, or the many unpronounceable organic contaminants, usually referred to by some acronym (e.g., DDT, POPs)? We also deal with the larger topics of CO2/climate change, the environmental nitrogen-oxide balance, and eutrophication of coastal waters (the “dead zones”).

HIST 171 Introduction to History: History of U.S. Social Movements
Kevin Vrevich
In-person only 

This Introduction to History course examines the long history of movements for social change in the United States from the 1830s to the 1970s. Movements we will explore will include abolitionism, women’s rights, the black freedom struggle, modern feminism, and gay liberation. We will focus on the tactics used by social movements to achieve their goals, how social movements related to each other, how social movements changed over time, and how social movements interacted with the broader forces of American society, including politics, race, law, and religion.

QAC 381 QAC Praxis Service Learning Lab
Jennifer Rose
In-person with remote students

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. 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.