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Community-Based Learning

Community Members and Drexel Students walking in a Philadelphia Street

In the College of Arts and Sciences unique Community-Based-Learning courses, students don’t just study the issues affecting the world — they study alongside the people affected. In Prison Society and You, students attend class in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility alongside prison inmates, creating a dialogue about crime and justice between those outside and inside of the nation’s correctional facilities. In Urban Farming Communities, students learn how to plant and maintain an urban green space at a West Philadelphia farm where they volunteer each week. In Hospice Journaling, students create life journals for hospice patients to help ailing individuals create a lasting record of their life for their loved ones. And in Connections in Biology, students teach in an after-school science club at a local middle school on topics ranging from microbiology to genetics.

Community-Based-Learning courses are offered in three formats: side-by-side, community hybrid and service learning. Side-by-side courses create a co-learning environment in which Drexel students and community members take classes together. Community hybrid courses are composed entirely of Drexel students and are split between the classroom and community. Service learning courses require service in the community in addition to students’ credit hours in the classroom.


  • ACHIEVEability
  • Art Sanctuary
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • City of Philadelphia
  • Crossroads Hospice
  • Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
  • Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships
  • Enterprise Center
  • Freire Charter School
  • Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center School Program
  • Ivan "Pick" Brown Memorial Foundation Inc.
  • Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association
  • LIFT - Philadelphia
  • Locke Elementary School
  • Mantua Senior Residence
  • Moder Patshala
  • Philabundance
  • Project for Nuclear Awareness
  • Spells Writing Lab, Inc.
  • The Veterans Group
  • U.C. Green, Inc.
  • Urban Tree Connection
  • Usiloquy Dance Designs
  • West Philadelphia Financial Services


For the most current list of available courses, visit the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement.

FALL 2017

Story Medicine: WRIT 215

Story Medicine is a Drexel Community-Based Learning Writing Intensive course that meets in the Seacrest Television Studio at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Using storytelling arts they learn in class, Drexel students write scripts and perform live plays on-camera for a television show broadcast throughout the hospital. All performances make use of a green screen and tele-prompter, so no memorization is necessary. Patients who are well enough come down to the studio to participate. Children in wards watch on T.V. and call into the show to answer questions, and read their own story creations on air.

Story Medicine students are writers, actors and directors -- but they are also so much more than that. Drexel students interact with a unique patient population and share moments of grace and courage with patients who come onto the show, change the narrative, and contribute their own vibrant and impactful voices to the stories we tell.

Story Medicine is a good fit for students from all majors. Writing assignments support the studio performances. Students learn fiction-writing techniques so as to be able to craft exciting plots, characters and settings for studio performances. Students also workshop each other’s writing and engage in reflective writing, so as to be able to process the experience and become active participants in building this course for future quarters.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Nomi Eve, meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m., at CHOP – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The Opioid Crisis in Our Backyard: CJS 380

In 2016 drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia increased nearly 30 percent. Last year approximately 900 people, three times the number of our city’s homicide victims, lost their lives as result of this epidemic. Eighty percent of these drug overdose deaths are attributed to opioids. The criminalization of drug addiction and current opioid epidemic has overwhelmed and misplaced the already burdened shadow healthcare system that exists in our criminal justice system (e.g. policing, courts, corrections).

This interdisciplinary criminology course will utilize multiple academic approaches and experts to explore the history, biology, law, public health, policy, practice and management of the Philadelphia opioid epidemic.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cyndi Rickards, meets Wednesdays, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Nonprofit Communication: COM 376

All nonprofit organizations must develop and maintain effective communication strategies in order to survive in a competitive economy. Nonprofits have unique needs and limitations in their long-term goals and short-term operations that relate to communication. This course introduces students to the ways nonprofits communicate with both their constituents and their benefactors and the ways researchers have examined these practices. Students will explore these two perspectives on nonprofit communication through a combination of scholarly readings, dialogues with local representatives in the nonprofit sector, and direct contact and work for a local nonprofit organization. This course articulates with the content and goals of other courses in the Department of Communication, specifically COM280 (Public Relations), COM220 (Qualitative Research Methods), COM282 (Public Relations Writing), COM286 (Public Relations Strategies and Tactics), COM675 (Grant Writing for the Arts and Humanities), and COM680 (Public Relations Writing and Strategies). Questions of interest are:

  • What is the nature of a nonprofit organization?
  • How are nonprofit organizations governed?
  • Who are the various stakeholders in a nonprofit’s community?
  • What particular and unique kinds of formal communications do nonprofits engage in?

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Lawrence Souder, meets Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:20 p.m.

Critical Reasoning: PHIL 105-130

Introduces and develops the skills involved in reasoning effectively about experience and gives the student the ability to distinguish strong arguments from weak ones. Helps the student identify points of vulnerability in reasoning as well as the value and reality assumptions that lie behind our everyday thoughts and actions, recognize logical fallacies, and understand the difference between deductive and inductive arguments.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Stacey E. Ake, meets Tuesdays, 5:30-8:20 p.m.

Prison, Society and You: CJS 261

This course utilizes the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program to explore the relationship between individuals and the prison system. The Inside-Out Exchange Program is an evolving set of projects that creates opportunities for dialogue between those on the outside and those on the inside of the nation’s correctional facilities. The program demonstrates the potential for dynamic collaborations between institutions of higher education and correctional institutions. Most importantly, through this unique exchange, Inside-Out an this course seeks to deepen the conversation- and transform ways of thinking about crime and justice (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004) Course Goal and Mission: At the most basic level, this course and program allows students to go behind the walls to reconsider what they have learned about crime and justice, while those on the inside are encouraged to place their life experiences in a larger framework. Students will exchange ideas and perceptions about crime and justice, the criminal justice system, corrections and imprisonment. It is a chance for all participants to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system through the marriage of theoretical knowledge and practical experience achieved by weekly meetings and extended throughout the semester. (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004).

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cyndi Rickards, meets Thursdays, 1:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

What Students Are Saying About Community-Based Learning

“The Inside-Out Prison Exchange course was by far the most memorable class I took at Drexel. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to open up a greater diversity of thought. Two years later, I still reflect on the lessons I learned and how the class transformed my way of thinking about crime and justice.” — Stephanie Takach, BS Communication ’12

"The opportunities offered in community-based learning at Drexel were the most rewarding and significant aspects of my education. They not only enabled me to get involved with the surrounding community of West Philadelphia and opened my eyes to the hardships that inner-city individuals experience, but they also offered the chance to undertake a more robust social science project that utilized my ethnographic skills. Doing this kind of research made me more excited about anthropological work and gave me a sense of being involved in the discipline. As a result of all of these factors, I will never forget how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to take part in this work." — Peter Knepper, BA Anthropology '11

“As an anthropology major, I gained a great deal of real research experience and learned a lot about core sociological concepts through community-based-learning courses. While volunteering, I was able to see the impact I can make on my community and I had the opportunity to interact with people whom I would never normally be able to talk to. Through these incredible interactions, I learned the importance of a symbiotic relationship. As much as I have been helping those in need, they have been helping me. Their knowledge and experience has taught me so much and has made me grow immensely." — Nora Meighan, BA Anthropology '14

"I can't put into words how amazing this course was and how it affected my life as a whole… The way in which the course brought together such a diverse group of people and showed us all that we are all the same, was life changing. I am forever grateful for the experiences I have had and the people I have met in this class. I will never forget it." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course

"Through this course I was able to travel outside of my comfort zone physically and mentally. It enabled me to not only meet community members, but also to get to know each and everyone one of them on a personal level." —Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course

"I loved this class. I enjoyed being off campus and with a diverse group of students." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course