Community Engaged Learning

What is Community Engaged Learning?

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is an educational approach that integrates service in the community with intentional learning activities. Within effective CEL efforts, members of both educational institutions and community organizations work together toward outcomes that are mutually beneficial.

Community Engaged Learning @ Western aims to connect classroom with community in a way that is mutually beneficial to all participants: students, faculty, and community partners. We believe the community can contribute in multiple and meaningful ways to student learning objectives. In addition, Western students can contribute knowledge and skills toward developing sustainable solutions for community-identified needs. At Western, we provide a variety of experiential learning opportunities that give students important opportunities for practical application of classroom learning. CEL courses offer additional benefits to students such as increased sense of civic engagement and the chance for their academic work to make a positive impact in local and global communities.

CEL offers a number of valuable benefits to students, including:

  • Meaningful connections to local and international communities
  • Context to apply academic learning outside the classroom
  • Hands-on experience to aid in building a resume
  • Development of critical thinking skills
  • Enhanced understanding of diverse cultures and communities
  • Opportunities to learn/practice transferable skills including communication, teambuilding, and problem-solving
  • Increased sense of civic engagement and social responsibility

Community Engaged Learning Opportunities for Modern Languages and Literatures Students:

Local CEL Opportunities:

Course: Intercultural Communications 2500F/G: Bridging Classroom and Community: Languages & Cultures in Action (cross listed with CLC/Italian/German/Spanish 2500F)
Faculty Member: Dr. Angela Borchert
Term Offered: Fall 2019
Course Description:  By engaging with critical and creative explorations, we will investigate issues of identity, memory, immigration, prejudice, stereotype, and intercultural dialogue. Students will be involved in collaborative projects with members of the London community, to document the richness of its cultural diversity. By recording audio and/or visual interviews with their community partners, students will be able to enrich London’s local history and at the same time, bridge theory and practice of intercultural communication and competence within the Arabic, Hispanic, German, Italian, and Japanese communities. These languages are part of the Modern Languages and Literatures department offering.

Previous projects include: Students are placed with a variety of community partners, such as language schools, social clubs, old age homes, and/or cultural centers, where language, identity, and memory interact socially in dynamic, but diverse ways. Students engage one-on-one with members of these community organizations, or the people that they serve, so that they may shadow, observe, and participate directly in community partner initiatives.

Course:  Intercultural Communications 3300F/G: Making a Difference: Portfolio in Intercultural Communication
Faculty Member: Dr. Angela Borchert
Term Offered: Fall/Winter 2019
Course Description:  What do you need to be interculturally effective? Using local experiences, gain global competencies by developing a comparative perspective on expectations, myths, roles, norms, rituals and language. Figure out how to make a difference by applying your skills. Students will partner with local community organizations to complete a project defined by the community partner that helps advance the mission of their organization. By engaging in a project, students are able to apply their course content knowledge to “real world” experiences while contributing to the community organization.

CourseSpanish 2200: Intermediate Spanish & Spanish 3300: Advanced Spanish Language
Faculty Member: Ana Garcia-Allen (Course Coordinator)
Team Offered: Fall and Winter Terms (1.0 credit)
Course Description:
 Spanish 2200:  Combining grammar and communication this course prepares students to discuss, read and write about a variety of topics and to explore ideas about Hispanic culture in relation to their own. Includes a Community Service Learning option. Spanish 3300:  Further development of oral and written skills with systematic acquisition of vocabulary and selective grammar review. Based on a multimedia and communicative approach, this course aims to develop fluency. Discussions, readings, and writing will focus on the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. Includes an optional Community Service Learning component.

Course:  Spanish 2216G: Exploring Hispanic Cultures II
Faculty Member: Dr. Victoria Wolff
Term Offered: Winter 2020
Course Description:  Introduction to reading, writing and researching in literature, film, popular culture and digital Spanish. Students develop foundations in these fields through a series of case studies across generic, historical, geographical areas of the Hispanic world. Taught by one core professor in conjunction with different specialists.

Course: Spanish 3319A/B: Second Language Acquisition (cross listed with Linguistics 2244B)
Faculty Member: TBA
Term Offered: Winter 2020
Course Description: An overview of research on naturalistic and instructed second language acquisition (SLA). Various aspects of first language and second language learning/acquisition processes provide a framework for consideration of basic questions in SLA. Issues considered include situational factors influencing SLA, learner differences, and cognitive processes in learning a second/foreign language. The course will match students up with members of the London and Western community who are endeavouring to learn a second language.

Course:  Spanish 3591F/G: Hispanic Studies: Music, Dance, Performance
Faculty Member: Dr. Victoria Wolff
Term Offered: Fall 2019
Course Description:  This course focuses on the performing arts of the Hispanic World and how they incorporate cross-cultural influences and traditions, relate to other art forms such as the literary and visual arts, intersect with the world of mass media and entertainment, and address issues of identity, gender, social (in)justice, and/or resistance.


International CEL Opportunities:

Course: Spanish 1030: Spanish for Beginners
Faculty Member: Ana Garcia-Allen (Course Coordinator)
Team Offered: Fall and Winter Terms (1.0 credit)
Course Description: Using traditional and communicative practices (songs, videos, films, games) this course prepares students to interact in a daily life context and provides the foundation for continued studies in Spanish. Designed for students with little or no knowledge of Spanish. Includes a Community Service Learning option in either the Dominican Republic or Cuba.

Course: Spanish 2200: Intermediate Spanish & Spanish 3300: Advanced Spanish Language (Intermediate and Advanced Spanish: Cuba CEL)
Faculty Member: TBA
Term Offered: Fall and Winter 2019 (1.0 credit), travel during Reading Week   
Course Description:
  Combining grammar and communication this course prepares students to discuss, read and write about a variety of topics and to explore ideas about Hispanic culture in relation to their own. Includes a Community Service Learning trip to Cuba over Reading Week.

For more information, visit the Western Student Success Centre website.