Community-based learning 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.


  • AMST-218 Archive Stories - This course, taught by Prof. Wendy Bergoffen, examines archives as rich sites of meaning and memory. Students gain valuable research skills as they develop original projects, collaborate with community partners, and write archive stories. Students work with staff in the Amherst College Special Collections as well as visit Wistariahurst Museum, the Holyoke Public Library, and the Sexual Minorities Archives in Holyoke.
  • BIOL-454 Seminar in Tropical Biology - This course, taught by Prof. Ethan Clotfelter, examines some of the myriad biotic interactions that occur in the tropics using an ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral approach. During a two-week field course before the start of the semester, students are immersed in the tropical forests of Costa Rica. Students learn from local specialists about taxonomic groups that are particularly significant in the tropics. Back on campus, students analyze data collected in the field and design experimental research that is presented in an NSF-style grant proposal.
  • ENST-371 / SPAN-371 Climate Change and Social Justice in Puerto Rico - Hurricane Maria laid bare the social inequalities in Puerto Rico; it also accelerated efforts to seek alternative sources of food and fuel. In this course, taught by Prof. Ashwin Ravikumar and Prof. Paul Schroeder Rodriguez, students traveled to Puerto Rico for two weeks before the start of the semester to analyze and evaluate how three such efforts have fared: one small grassroots organization, one large not-for-profit organization, and one government agency. Students then studied the organizations in depth during the Spring semester.
  • MUSI-116 Experiencing Music - In this course, taught by Prof. Darryl Harper, students closely examine what is at stake for performers and listeners in live music settings. Through attendance at rehearsals and performances, as well as lectures and panel discussions by guest speakers, students engage the communities of musicians and listeners in the Pioneer Valley and familiarize themselves with the rich heritages of music found here.
  • RELI-232 The "Stuff" of U.S. Religion: Material and Visual Approaches - From radios, bound scriptural texts, bells, incense, drums, clothing, and human bodies, at the center of observable religious practices is an interaction between humans and the objects they use to make sacred utterances legible and meaningful. Students in this course, taught by Prof. Lloyd Barba, attended a range of religious services to consider the material aspects (photographs, inanimate objects, clothing, film, etc.) of those religious practices.