April 19, 2013

Experiential Learning for Academic Credit

The main theme that I am working on is based on an idea I had that students should be able to integrate their feminist activism with their academic learning. On top of that idea and based on my experiences of working part time at the Career Service I thought about the ways in which students might be able to get practical experiences in women centred or feminist organizations and again integrate them into their academic learning. Many universities offer placements to undergraduates through an intercalculated year but making it an integral part of an MA offering is less usual.

In starting to do research into the different models of experiential learning for academic credit I came across practices in the USA that were embedded into the secondary education system by the Bush administration in the 1990s. Wikipedia provides a pretty good overview of the different forms in which experiential learning can take, specifically community based learning (CBL) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service-learning . I have also read an interesting paper that provides a typology of the different types of experiential learning and thinks about their usefulness for those leading Sociology courses see here Experiential Learning in Sociology

It seems to me that having something like CBL or other forms of experiential learning embedded in our module would be a fantastic opportunity for those interested in Gender, feminism and sexualities because of the lived nature of these areas of study.

What do you think?


- 5 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Anna Sloan

    This is really interesting, thanks Sam! Just wondering how this might relate to sexuality and to studies of men/masculinities, as it sounds like this area is most clearly developed in relation to studying women/feminism. Would there be any differences in approach for these other areas?

    19 Apr 2013, 18:49

  2. Sam

    Thanks for your comment Anna, there is nothing about the concept of experiential learning for academic credit that precludes any potential students interests. There are less men doing activism underpinned by a feminist framework but it does exist for example the White Ribbon Campaign is male led and organised. Of course male gay liberation has a strong history with an ongoing activist agenda with lots of organizations doing it in a formal capacity, Stonewall is just one example. There are men organizing against porn as well. The US model is based on community work and is not focuses on gender issues or feminist organizations at all.

    19 Apr 2013, 19:30

  3. Emma Beckett

    Great post Sam. I think experiential learning and/or CBL is a great idea and could benefit the module immensely. When I was an undergrad (although a long time ago now) studying women’s studies and sociology, I knew that I wanted to do activism-based/type work when I graduated but didn’t know where to start. I got lucky when i spotted a job ad in a local paper, and once you are ‘in’ this type of work, it’s far easier to remain in the field.
    When I did my MA, I had already been working in the voluntary sector for around 3 years, but I know plenty of people who would have benefited from CBL being made available as part of the course. Even now I am asked the “how did you get into it” type questions – it’s still a huge gap in academic courses. And of course, it’s always good to retain that balance between academia and activism.
    I think Anna raises some really good points about masculinities – male activism is still not as visible as women’s – but maybe we just need to be aware of looking a bit harder? :)

    21 Apr 2013, 13:55

  4. Anna Sloan

    Cool! Do you think this model would also work for Humanities-based students who may be more interested in working for an archive or an arts/theatre/film organisation or the like, rather than doing explicitly activism-oriented work?

    22 Apr 2013, 11:36

  5. Samantha Lyle

    Hi Anna, i don’t see why not and in fact the University is supporting this sort of thing for undergraduate History of Art students (i think).

    23 Apr 2013, 15:52

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