Community-based and project-based learning takes many forms at Amherst College. From courses that advance the work of local organizations to faculty/student research collaborations, the possibilities seem endless.  

If you want to take a community-based learning course, browse the list of current courses.

What do we mean by community-based and project-based learning?

Community-based learning and project-based learning encompass a broad spectrum of curricular activity that link learning both inside and outside the classroom. This can include a variety of modes, including but not limited to long-term community partnerships; course projects with a community connection; bringing community collaborators into the classroom; and study trips and immersive engagement. Courses may employ one or more modes of community-based and/or project-based learning to accomplish faculty teaching and learning goals.

Community-based and project-based learning can be used as effective strategies for addressing a number of unique teaching challenges presented by COVID-19.  Suggestions and strategies for integrating modes of CBL and PBL in your courses this coming fall can be found here.

Modes of community-based & project-based learning:

Long-term Community Partnerships

Long-term community partnerships allow faculty members and community organizations to develop relationships and build trust. As a result, courses can be designed that meet both the pedagogical goals of Amherst College faculty and a need articulated by a community partner. Examples of courses that involve long-term community partnerships can be found here.

Course Projects

Whether they are discreet, short-term assignments or are structured to take place over the course of the semester, projects can link course content to community contexts and help students to develop discipline-specific skills. Examples of courses that involve projects can be found here.

Public Scholarship

Public scholarship offers rich opportunities for students to reflect on how the ideas they have studied apply in new settings and contexts; provides direct opportunities to collaborate with and learn from community members very different from themselves; and allows them to share what they have learned with a broad range of non-academic audiences, using a variety of approaches.

Public scholarship projects utilize a range of forums for presenting student research to a popular audience, including (but not limited to) public lectures, opinion pieces, arts and media, research reports for community partners, apps and websites, and podcasts. Examples of courses that involve public scholarship can be found here.

Guest Speakers

Guest speakers or trainers from the community come to class to share their expertise and experience in a subject, or to train students on a specific methodology or community-based research practice. Examples of courses that involve guest speakers or trainers can be found here.

Study Trips

Study trips allow students to experience course concepts in contexts outside of the classroom. They can take many forms, from local field trips to place-based or community-engaged research trips. Examples of courses that involve study trips can be found here.