SPAN-495 Spanish Senior Seminar
Professor Sara Brenneis (Spanish, European Studies, Film and Media Studies)
WHAT WERE THE LEARNING GOALS AND/OR FACULTY INTENTIONS FOR THE COURSE?
The Senior Seminar is the capstone experience of the Spanish Major. It is designed for majors to reflect, integrate, and apply what they have learned and accomplished in the major. Over the course of the semester, students create an individualized portfolio through which they examine their personal trajectory with the Spanish language. They also engage in a semester-long individual project of their choosing -- research, community-based or creative -- and regularly reflect in writing and discussions on its progress and challenges. For students who choose to complete a community-based project, it is an opportunity to put their Spanish language and culture knowledge to work in service of a community partner or project.
WHAT DID CCE SUPPORT LOOK LIKE?
When the new senior seminar was launched in 2019, the CCE worked with Paul Schroeder Rodriguez to pilot a framework for a community-based learning project option with two local partners: Holyoke High School’s Ethnic Studies Program and the Eric Carle Museum.
In 2020, the CCE worked with Sara Brenneis to build upon the framework and develop strategies for doing the work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CCE staff identified and recruited possible community partners as project sponsors and worked with Professor Brenneis and those partners to develop project ideas that aligned with course learning goals. The CCE also shared project process guidelines (including tips for working with community partners, reflection guidelines for project-based work, etc.).
CCE staff visited an early class session to present potential projects to students in the course and discuss what work with a community partner would look like. Students then met one-on-one with CCE staff to determine which project best fit their goals for the course. Once a project was selected, CCE staff arranged initial meetings with students and community partners to help facilitate the creation of a project plan to set clear expectations for the work ahead. As projects progressed, the CCE provided ongoing support for project work by checking in with students and partners, staying in regular communication with Professor Brenneis to ensure projects continued to proceed smoothly alongside other course activities.
HOW DID THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COMPONENT SUPPORT THE LEARNING GOALS?
- Provided students with an opportunity to put their Spanish language and culture knowledge to work in service of a community partner or project
- Incorporated experiential learning as part of the reflection process when students developed their portfolios for the course
- Allowed senior students to connect their academic work with personal and professional interests, leveraging their advanced language skills and expertise
- Helped students to better understand and practice the nuances of doing translation work in a particular context
WHAT WAS THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY?
- Built capacity for community organizations by taking on projects that, because of limitations of size, funding, time, etc., those organizations aren’t able to prioritize or tackle on their own
- Enhanced access to these organizations, by helping to make their services more welcoming to more people in the community
Emily Dickinson Museum, Mead Art Museum (ATS & CTL in 2019 with Paul Schroeder Rodriguez)