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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 (https://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.


To count toward the CESC concentration, all service-learning, internships, community-based participatory research, and paid or volunteer community service experiences must meet the following requirements.

  1. One experience should consist of at least 100 documented hours of work with a consistent community partner. The other experience will be at least 200 hours. When possible, experiences of longer duration are strongly encouraged.
  2. At least one practical experience must be explicitly related to the student's area of interest for the concentration.
  3. The two practical experiences must differ in terms of host organization and tasks performed.
  4. Prior approval must be obtained from the concentration adviser, using the Practical Experience Approval Form(PDF).
  5. Both student learning goals and community outcomes of substantial benefit to the community partner must be demonstrated; both the Practical Experience Documentation Form and the Supervisor Evaluation Form must be submitted.

Practical experiences may:

Documenting Your Practical Experiences

Students are encouraged to maintain a journal during their practical experiences (at least one entry per week is recommended) and to keep examples of the work and materials they produce.

The following required documentation must be compiled and submitted to the Administrative Coordinator of the Center for Community Collaboration in Wright Hall (Lower Level). Materials must be submitted within a semester of completing your practical experience in order to be counted toward your concentration.

Retroactive Practical Experience Approval

If you have already completed one or more practical experiences (internships, service-learning, community-based participatory research, paid or volunteer community service) before entering the Community Engagement and Social Change concentration program, you are still eligible to receive credit for these experiences.

You will need to document your experience as follows:

  1. Complete the Practical Experience Documentation Form (PDF) retroactively with your concentration adviser
  2. Provide documentation of your experience (electronic versions or hard copies) that may include:
  • Examples of work or materials you produced
  • Relevant photographs
  1. Write a reflection paper (minimum of two pages) that addresses the following questions:
  • What were your main duties and accomplishments during your internship, service-learning, community-based participatory research, or paid or volunteer community service experience?
  • What aspects of your experience were most valuable?
  • What insights did you gain about yourself and your preferred working style?
  • How did your experience relate to your prior academic work?
  • What did the experience confirm or illuminate about your future academic and/or career goals?

These materials should be compiled and discussed with your concentration adviser for your practical experience to be counted toward a CESC concentration.

Local Internship Opportunities

Examples of local internship opportunities can be found here.

Additional Internship Opportunities

To access more internship opportunities, visit the Lazarus Center for Career Development.

Reflection Sessions

Students will complete at least one semester's worth of 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 https://www.smith.edu/ccc/concentration_forms.php.