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Community Engagement & Social Change Concentration

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Courses & Requirements

The CESC concentration will include as many as 15 students annually. Sophomores, juniors, and Ada Comstock Scholars are encouraged to apply.


The concentration is composed of six courses for a minimum of 22 credits, as follows:

Gateway Course

CCX 120/IDP 120 Community-Based Learning (CBL): Ethics and Practice

Service-learning, civic engagement, and community service have become familiar terms for describing forms of community-based learning (CBL) in higher education. Theorists and practitioners continue to debate how to bring community issues into the classroom and how best to bring students into the neighborhoods surrounding their colleges and universities. IDP 120 considers these issues through exposure to both the literature of community engagement and the experiences of those who practice its different forms.

This course serves as a gateway course for the Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration. As such, one of the primary purposes of the class is to give students exposure to the varied opportunities available at the College for engaging with communities. Specifically, the course will focus on volunteer opportunities, course-based engagement, and examples of community-based research.


Within and across these different approaches, we will identify and explore the ethical issues that characterize community partnerships, and the best practices that attempt to address these issues. Students will also interact with peers, faculty, guest speakers, and community members who will provide first-hand perspectives on the local practice of CBL and the critical needs in surrounding communities. (Graded S/U only. 2 credits)


Students will take four courses that support their area of interest. Examples of areas of interest include immigration and citizenship, public health, education, law and policy, community organizing, community narratives, environmental justice, social movements, and arts and activism. Electives deepen students' knowledge in relevant core content, including social justice, systems analysis, diversity, community development and community-based learning/research. Course offerings with this content are available in multiple departments at Smith and in the Five Colleges. Electives must be derived from multiple disciplines, and two of the electives must be Community-Based Learning (CBL) courses (http://www.smith.edu/ccc/courses.php).

Practical Experiences

Students will complete two different practical experiences to fulfill the requirements for the CESC Concentration. One experience will consist of at least 100 documented hours of work with a community partner. The other experience will be at least 200 hours. When possible, experiences of longer duration are strongly encouraged. These may include internships, service-learning, community-based participatory research, and paid or volunteer community service. They may occur at any time in the calendar year: during the academic semester, interterm, spring break, or summer. They may be combined with Praxis, off-campus work-study, or other stipend programs.

Reflection Sessions

Students will complete at least one semester's worth of weekly reflection sessions, coordinated by the CCC. These sessions facilitate student learning from practical experiences, and should be taken concurrently with or immediately following one of the practical experiences.

Capstone Course

CCX 320 Capstone Seminar for the CESC Concentration

The seminar provides a forum for a cohort of concentrators to develop projects that analyze, evaluate, and synthesize their prior academic work and practical experiences for the CESC Concentration. Students will be provided readings, discussions, mentoring, and other support they need to complete capstone projects. (4 credits)

Submittal of Concentration Advising Checklist

Upon completion of the CESC Concentration, students are required to submit to the Registrar a completed Concentration Advising Checklist form, signed by their adviser, indicating that the student has completed all requirements. Students will not receive credit for the Concentration without submitting this form. The Checklist and other relevant forms are available at http://smith.edu/ccc/concentration_forms.php.