Engagement, Part II
March 22, 2011 By Leave a Comment
For those of you who have not caught on quite yet, I am not engaged. I’m not talking about someone I know who is engaged, or about being engaged in general. At least in the marriage sense. I’m talking about community engagement (again), and I’m following up on my last post about this topic.
This week at Brandeis is (EL)2 week, which stands for Experiential Learning-Engaged Learners. Some of the activities include a coffee house, a symposium, and a sushi dinner. Students and professors will discuss, present, and share their experiences with community engagement and hands-on learning at Brandeis.
Even before I was I student here, one of my favorite things about Brandeis has always been the way classroom learning becomes practical and useful; we leave here with concrete tools to improve the world around us. I didn’t realize how true this actually was, and to what extent, until I got here and started getting involved.
One of the most obvious ways we take classroom learning and make it real is through the huge emphasis on experiential learning and engagement. Every semester Brandeis offers classes that have a specific emphasis on experience or community involvement. These experiential learning classes take students to all parts of Waltham and Boston, exploring our community, and getting to know those in it. Students get to hear speakers from all walks of life, whether they are mothers in the area or leaders of impressive institutions devoted to the cause the class teaches. Students are also given the opportunity to get involved in some way related to the class; they can volunteer at WATCH, a tenant advocacy clinic that is part of Waltham Group, or they can partner with the Natural Living club to set up Brandeis’ very first Farmer’s Market, to name just a few.
Even in classes that are not specifically experiential or engaged learning classes, students at Brandeis often find themselves involved in activities where they can apply their formal learning, whether it is a theatre class or a class on social policy. There has probably been a moment (or several) in every student’s educational career where they sit in a class and ask, “when will I ever use this?” Fortunately at Brandeis, we can take comfort in knowing that everything we learn in the classroom will help us be better citizens of our world. Instead of asking when we will use what we learn, we find ourselves wondering if we will ever encounter a situation where nothing we’ve learned can be used. My guess is we won’t.
To find out more about (EL)2, check out Brandeis’ Experiental Learning page.