The place-based experiential learning component of the Global Liberal Studies (GLS) degree is one of its most distinctive features. The Experiential Learning courses involve students in a cycle of experience, reflection, and the formulation of concepts that in turn guide the understanding of fresh experiences. In keeping with the mission of GLS, the emphasis of the Experiential Learning courses falls on experiences of place. These experiences take the form both of group community excursions and individual community placements (such as internships, volunteer opportunities, and, on occasion, individual research projects); the goal is to involve students with the workplace culture and social practices of the city in which they live so that they may reflect on and formulate concepts about the formation of the city’s cultural and social milieu and its relation to global frameworks in a way that is informed by their concentration.
Experiential Learning IExperiential Learning I, a four-credit, letter-graded course, comprises both classroom instruction and community experience to immerse students in the current and historical character of their junior year study abroad site. Whenever possible, students practice foreign language skills as part of this immersion. Classroom instruction provides an interdisciplinary perspective on the local, regional, national, and global forces that have shaped the character of life in the site city. The community experience (normally, an internship, volunteer opportunity, or independent study opportunity) immerses the student in the contemporary life of the city, giving an advanced introduction to the city’s local character and its intersection with global forces along four dimensions: Arts and Media, Politics, Economics, and the social practices of everyday life. The historical development of the city is diffused through each of these units, but the instructor may also choose to begin with a preamble devoted explicitly to the geographical situation and historical development of the city.
Experiential Learning IIThe second semester of Experiential Learning is a two-credit, Pass/Fail course focused primarily on a community placement each student undertakes in close conjunction with the course’s classroom component. With the guidance of the instructor, students independently reflect on and formulate concepts relating directly to their community placement. The community placement, which the student actively participates in securing with guidance from the relevant site or professional personnel, falls within the area defined by the student’s concentration and, as much as possible, relates to his or her individual academic interests.