2013-2014 Service Learning Courses

Work & Workers’ Movements in the Globalized Political Economy
Kimberly Christensen
Open – Yearlong

What is the situation of workers today? How does their situation differ by race, Gender, Sexual orientation, Nativity/Country of origin? How have workers attempted to improve their status through unions and related movements, and through lobbying for changes in government policy? How has increased globalization (with accompanying increases in capital flight and immigration) impacted these issues? This course will address these topics from a theoretical, historical, and legal/public policy perspective, with an eye to contextualizing and understanding current-day labor struggles. As part of the requirements for the course, students will be expected to engage in, and reflect upon, a service-learning project with a NYC labor-related organization such as an immigrant worker center, a labor union, or an advocacy organization.

Poverty in America: Integrating Theory, Research, Policy and Practice
Kim Ferguson
Open – Yearlong

One-fifth of all American children live in poverty. Why? And what can be done about it? In this course, we will take an ecological and psychobiological approach to poverty in America and its relationship to public policy, with a focus on child poverty. We will discuss how physical and psychosocial environments differ for poor and non-poor children and their families in both rural and urban contexts, specifically rural Upstate New York and urban Yonkers. We will explore how these differences affect mental and physical health and motor, cognitive, language, and socio-emotional development. We will also discuss individual and environmental protective factors that buffer some children from the adverse effects of poverty, as well as the impacts of public policy on poor children and their families, including recent welfare, health, and educational policy reforms in the United States. Topics will include environmental chaos, cumulative risk and its relationship to chronic stress, and unequal access to health-care services. This course will also serve as an introduction to the methodologies of community-based and participatory action research within the context of a service-learning course. Students will be expected to participate in a community partnership addressing issues related to poverty as part of their conference work. In the first semester, we will discuss the nature of these research and practice methodologies, and students will develop a proposal for community-based work in partnership with their community organization. In the second semester, students will implement and evaluate this project. A previous course in the social sciences is recommended.

Health, Illness, and Medicine in a Multicultural Context: A Service Learning Course
Linwood Lewis
First-Year Studies

What is the difference between disease and illness? Do people in different cultures manifest the same illness similarly? Has the biomedical model resulted in better health for all? Why do women get sicker but men die quicker? This course offers an overview of theoretical and research issues in the psychological study of health and illness within a cultural context. We will examine theoretical perspectives in the psychology of health, health cognition, illness prevention, stress, and coping with illness. We will also examine the interrelationship between humans and the natural and built environment. A lifespan approach examining child, adolescent, and adult issues will provide additional insight. Issues of sexuality, gender, race, and ethnicity are a central focus, as well. This class is appropriate for those interested in a variety of health careers or in public health. Conference work may range from empirical research to bibliographic research in this area. The community partnership/service learning component is an important part of this class; we will work with local agencies to promote healthy and adaptive person-environment interactions within our community.

Sample of past service-learning courses

  • First Year Studies: Developmental Psychology & Educational Perspectives
  • The History of Elemental Mathematics: Pythagoras to Newton
  • Methods of Theater Outreach
  • Divided Nation? Cities and Suburbs in the U.S.
  • Children and Chronic Disease
  • Contemporary Immigration and Immigrant Rights in New York
  • Organized Money or Organized People: Voters, Movements, Media, and Money in U.S. Politics
  • Sound Structures, Social Structures
  • Modern Dance and Social Conscience
  • The Crime against Civil Rights: Crime Policy and Prisons
  • Science Education: From Congress to the Classroom
  • On Representing Indigenous Cultures: Latin America and Beyond

"Service learning is an invaluable part of teaching public policy. By working in non-profit organizations, students will learn about the penal system from the perspective of people who are disproportionately impacted by it: they form relationships with individuals in jails and prisons, with people who are recently released, and with family members. These experiences provoke complex questions and reflections about privilege, justice, and solutions during classroom discussion."

Service Learning Faculty Member


Faculty Members

Interested in teaching a Service Learning course? Contact Mara Gross, Director of Community Partnerships and Service Learning, at (914) 395-2588 or see more in-depth information on MySLC.