From the Dean
In 2011, I was approached by one of my faculty members to offer our students a course in a local prison — in the process of learning alongside inmates, she said, our students would gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of crime, justice, inequality and other important social issues.
I admit that I was hesitant at first, but by the last day of our very first Community-Based Learning course — Prison, Society and You — I knew we had started down the path to something big. As I sat in on a small “graduation” ceremony for the course, listening to the profound insights of both Drexel students and prison inmates, I saw firsthand the deep appreciation they had gained for the “gray areas” of life — for the things you can’t teach within the sheltered walls of a traditional classroom. I understood then that we had an obligation to our students and our community to bring the opportunities and impact of experiential learning far beyond that of Drexel’s Co-op program.
Six years later, we have delivered more than 60 Community-Based Learning courses in prisons, homeless shelters, urban farms, hospice centers and more. Through these courses, more than 1,000 students and community members have come together to explore topics as wide-ranging as poverty, war, food access and the power of writing.
Volunteer hours, community service — these are wonderful ways to engage with our local communities. But there is unique potential in the long-term experience of a community- based course, including the exploration of course material in the real world and the opportunity to understand how every discipline in the College has the ability to impact the community. This knowledge empowers our students and community members to be powerful change agents, now and throughout their lives — regardless of their career path.
I invite you to read more about the Drexel faculty, students and alumni who are leading our world forward.
Donna M. Murasko, PhD, Dean
Drexel University College of Arts & Sciences