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.

In-depth, semester-long projects conducted with a community partner

  • FAMS-312 / MUSI-238 Soundscapes of the Connecticut River Valley – In this course, taught by Prof. Jeffers Engelhardt, students learn about local histories and music scenes, ethnographic methods and technologies, and different techniques of documentary representation. It also involves intensive, sustained engagement with musicians and sounds in the Amherst vicinity (and beyond). The course culminates in contributions to a web-based documentary archive of soundscapes projects.
  • PSYC-206 Psychology of Play - In this research methods course, taught by Prof. Carrie Palmquist, students begin by defining play and exploring researchers’ differing perspectives on whether children can learn by playing, followed by visits to the Beneski Museum and the Holyoke Children’s Museum to explore the role of museums in studying and advancing children’s playful learning. Students then design and test interventions that will encourage playful learning goals established in cooperation with the director and administrators at the Holyoke Children’s Museum.
  • SPAN-345 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation - In partnership with the Holyoke Public Library, which is working to preserve and make available artifacts and stories about Puerto Ricans in Holyoke, students in this course, taught by Prof. Paul Schroeder Rodriguez, conducted oral history interviews in Holyoke. Students then traveled to Puerto Rico during Spring Break in order to visit relatives of the interviewees, share this knowledge, interview them in turn, and bring the gathered oral histories and artifacts back to Holyoke for sharing and archiving. 

Discrete, shorter-term project assignments

  • AMST-305 / SOCI-305 / SWAG-305 Gender, Migration, and Power: Latinos in the Americas - This course, taught by Prof. Leah Schmalzbauer, draws from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. Students design independent final projects that can take a range of forms, including personal/family histories, creative projects, or research papers.
  • CHEM-100 Molecular Gastronomy and Food Science: From Test Tubes to Taste Buds - This course, taught by Prof. Christopher Durr and Prof. Patricia O’Hara, examines our core requirements for food as we eat to live, and some of the cultural, social, historical, and culinary dimensions as we live to eat. Students learn the science behind different methods of food preparation. For their final project, student groups select a recipe that has meaning to them and prepare it using one or more of those methods.
  • ECON-453 Economics of Entrepreneurship - This course, taught by Prof. Jake Blackwood, explores the economic importance of entrepreneurship, including implications for policy and recent patterns in entrepreneurial activity in the United States. Students interview local entrepreneurs and examine their stories alongside those of well-known, transformational entrepreneurs.
  • POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature and World Politics in the Americas - This course, taught by Prof. Manuela Picq, explores states of extraction and offers an activist approach to political ecology in the Americas. Students design straightforward interventions that connect theory to practice and connect course content to local/global context.
  • STAT-231 Data Science - This course, taught by Prof. Katharine Correia, introduces students to tools for data management and wrangling that are common in data science and will apply those tools to real-world applications. In the Clearinghouse Challenge project, students undertake practical analyses of large, complex, and messy data sets leveraging modern computing tools.

Collaboratively designed projects with students as partners

  • CHEM 250 / SOCI 250 Being Human in STEM - This interactive course, taught by Prof. Sheila Jaswal and Prof. Leah Schmalzbauer, combines academic inquiry and community engagement to investigate identity, inequality and representation within STEM fields--at Amherst and beyond. Students design group projects that apply the findings of our research to develop resources and engage the STEM community, whether at the college, local, or national level.
  • PSYC-224 Intergroup Dialogue on Race - This course, taught by Prof. Elizabeth Aries and Prof. Allen Hart, brings together students to examine the roles race and other intersecting identities play in their lives. Course work includes an interdisciplinary blend of scholarly readings, in-class dialogue, experiential learning activities, reflective writing, and an intergroup collaborative action project aimed at bettering relationships and communication patterns outside the class itself.