Center for Community Engagement

This spring, consider taking one of ten community-based learning courses

There's never been a better time to take a community-based learning course than this spring.

The lineup includes a handful of tried-and-true, perinnially popular options like Reading, Writing, Teaching, and Collaborative Art: Practice and Theory of Working with Community. It also features three brand new courses: Building Community, Beyond Shangri-La, and the Immigrant City. In total, there are ten classes to choose from— and the biggest challenge might be narrowing down a final list.

From recording the musical terrain of the Pioneer Valley to creating a simulated computer game of historical Holyoke, students in these ten courses will create original art, documentaries, and research. They will explore, teach, and learn from local communities.

Browse the list of courses below, and contact Sarah Barr, director of academic programs, with any questions.

Community-based learning courses add complexity and urgency to students’ critical grasp of social, political, and cultural issues by connecting the intellectual rigors of academic study with the needs and expertise of the community. Research projects and questions designed in close consultation with local, regional, national, or even international organizations hone student’s skills while producing truly and immediately useful information and analysis.

Action and Character  (THDA 113)

This course examines what happens on stage (the action) and “how” that action happens (the character) from the points of view of the playwright and the actor. The course assumes that the creative processes of both the actor and the playwright are similar.

Beyond Shangri-La: Narratives of Tibet, East and West (ASLC-325)

This course will look in depth at Asian and Western constructions of Tibetan identity in various sources and media. The second part of the course will also involve sustained engagement with the Tibetan community in the Pioneer Valley, as the students will interview local Tibetan immigrants and collect their stories. For more information about this course, you can read the CCE's feature story on Professor Paola Zamperini and this class.

Building Community (AMST-221)

This course investigates the practice and ideal of community in America both on a national and a local level, asking students to engage in specific projects aimed at strengthening the public sphere and fostering community life.

Collaborative Art: Practice and Theory of Working with a Community (ARHA-310)

This course will examine the approaches of various contemporary artists to creating collaborative work. Students will work on an art project with communities in the Amherst area.

The Craft of Speaking II: Spoken Expression (THDA-225)

In this second course in the craft of speaking, students learn to shape and speak text to powerful effect. Students build on prior work to extend vocal range and capacity while learning component principles of spoken expression.

The Immigrant City (FAMS-315/HIST-457)

A research seminar, this course will enroll eight students from Amherst College and eight from Holyoke Community College, and will be taught on alternate weeks at both colleges.  The city of Holyoke will be the focus of individual and collective research. Students will form research teams (one Amherst, one HCC student in each) and choose a topic for research. Each student will write a research paper based on primary sources, but the results of that research will also go into a collective database and an ARIS historical simulation project.

Pioneer Valley Soundscapes (FAMS-312/MUSI-238)

This course is about exploring, participating in, and documenting the musical communities and acoustic terrain of the Pioneer Valley. The first part of the course will focus on local histories and music scenes, ethnographic methods and technologies, and different techniques of representation. The second part of the course will involve intensive, sustained engagement with musicians and sounds in the Pioneer Valley. For more information about this course, you can read Katherine Duke '05's piece about a recent iteration of the class.

Reading, Writing, and Teaching (ENGL-120)

Students, as part of the work of the course, each week will tutor or lead discussions among a small group of students at Holyoke High School. The readings for the course will be essays, poems, autobiographies, and stories in which education and teaching figure centrally.

Scripts and Scores (THDA-252)

This course will provide structures and approaches for creating original choreography, performance pieces and events. An emphasis will be placed on interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to composition, choreography, and performance making. For more information about this course, you can read the CCE's feature story on a recent iteration of the class.

Video Production: Bodies in Motion (FAMS-341/THDA-250)

This studio production class will focus on multiple ways of tracking, viewing, and capturing bodies in motion. The course will emphasize working with the camera as an extension of the body to explore radically different points of view and senses of focus.