Community Engagement

In any one semester, up to 100 students enrolled in English courses will venture outside the University to teach English to new immigrants, assist high school students with finding community resources, and work with children at an urban farm—all for college credit.

ENGL 1501W Literature and Public Life explores how literary language builds the collective knowledge, shared reality, and civic relationships that make up public life. Literature's power in the public sphere goes far beyond the quiet, solitary experience of reading. You will investigate how telling stories, documenting events, imagining possibilities, communicating ideals, representing conflict, and even creating fictional characters contribute to public life, building civic relationships and democratic potential. A service-­learning option will give you the experience of building literacy, developing skills in communication and public media, and strengthening roles in work and family. Alternatively, an individually designed public project will prompt you to consider the links between literary/media culture, personal action, and public life, and to make your own intervention in these fields.

ENGL 3502 Nature Stories: Environmental Discourse in Action explores contemporary texts from multiple disciplines to analyze the role of stories in interpreting nature. Emphasis on lived experience, civic motivation, and observational research that enrich effective nature writing. Optional service-learning component.

ENGL 3505 Protest Literature and Community combines academic analysis and experiential learning to understand, in both theory and practice, different perspectives on the power of "protest" in civic life. Read a selection from the vast genre of progressive protest literature (pamphlets, poems, polemics, lists of demands, teaching philosophies, organizing principles, cultural histories, newsletter articles, movement chronicles, and excerpts from novels and biographies) from four key social-justice movements: the American Indian Movement, the Black Power movement, the post-Great Recession struggle for economic power, and the battle for immigrant rights. Get involved in local community-based education initiatives and local social-justice organizations through the course's service-learning.

ENGL 3506 Social Movements and Community Education examines progressive social movements, from the antiracist branch of the women’s movement to Occupy; from the prison abolition movement to the fight for public schools. Community organizing will be of particular interest: How do the groups, collectives, nonprofits, and communities propelling these different social movements organize themselves, their leadership, their strategies, and their activities? The role of education in organizations working for social change will also be examined. Students will work two hours per week at local education initiatives in K-12 schools, adult programs, and social-justice organizations in the non-profit and grassroots sectors.

ENGL 3741 Literacy and American Cultural Diversity combines academic study with experiential learning to explore the connections between literature and literacy and put theory into practice. It also offers undergraduates opportunities to gain experience in careers they may enter, including teaching, project management, editing, and nonprofit organizing.