Courses Partner with Local Organizations

For the past seven years, environmental studies professor Terry Osborne has taught many of his classes with an emphasis on what he calls “community-based learning” — getting his students out of the classroom and working on projects for nonprofit organizations in the Upper Valley community to apply their knowledge in practice.

“What I have learned from the past is that it absolutely amplifies and intensifies learning of the students,” Osborne said.

When the Social Impact Practicum initiative kicked off in the winter of 2017, Osborne’s classes fit right in with the goals of the program.

Organized by the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact, formerly known as the Center for Service, the SIP initiative serves as a direct response to College President Phil Hanlon’s call for greater experiential learning, said the center’s associate director of academic and service engagement Ashley Doolittle.

“Our center does community-driven experiential learning, which means that all of the programs in our portfolio of work come from explicit needs from community partners and organizations locally and around the country,” Doolittle said.

To bring this concept into classrooms, professors can choose to incorporate a social impact practicum into their courses, in which students work on projects for community organizations in the Upper Valley, according to Doolittle. This term, 11 courses have SIPs, with subjects ranging from engineering to film studies to speech.

“Faculty have an ability to seamlessly integrate [SIPs] into their existing courses so that students can apply the skills and content of what they are learning in that course for the need of a community partner,” Doolittle said.

Though Osborne has been teaching his environmental studies courses with an experiential component long before they were called SIPs, he said that the center’s management of the program has eased the logistical commitment for professors and has helped prevent community partners from being overwhelmed by an unorganized volume of Dartmouth projects.

Read the full story from The Dartmouth.