Introduction to Community Studies!

Next Wednesday we will officially launch the new minor in Community Studies! The Community Studies minor is designed to complement any academic major and will support students in their integration of community-based research and activities into their academic plans of study. I have been appointed the inaugural William and Mary Professor of Community Studies and will first teach Introduction to Community Studies (CMST 250) on the theme of African-American English. In CMST 250, we will examine hypothesis about the history and emergence of African-American English and explore the relationship of African-American English to linguistic theory, educational praxis, American culture, and racial inequality. Students in the course will participate in yearlong mentoring or tutoring programs that facilitate a direct engagement model of research. Students will also be supported by the new Office of Engagement and Community Scholarship and a host of community partners and both instructional and professional faculty who are committed to the development of our students as active citizens and scholars.

Also this fall, Prof. Monica Griffin will teach Community Studies 350 Critical Engagement in Context on the theme of social and cultural literacy. CMST 350 will survey a range of critical theories and perspectives about civic engagement, including philosophies of citizenship, organizational structure and efficacy, social justice and inequality, and social movements. All first year Sharpe Scholars will take the jointly taught CMST 100 The College and the Community. CMST 100 introduces Sharpe Scholars to Williamsburg, especially its history and prominent social issues that its citizens confront. CMST 100 introduces students to the various ethical, practical, and theoretical aspects of civic participation, and provides them with the skills to carry out academically grounded, community-based projects.

In the spring, I will teach Community Studies 351 Methods in Community-Based Research on the theme of  “The Language of Engagement.” This course will survey a variety of community-based participatory research methods, including survey research, individual and focus group interviewing, ethnographic field methods, and documentary activism around the objective-based topics of “reading for change, writing for change, speaking for change, and asking for change.”

The students in the first Community Studies courses exude their personal and collective dedication to community-based scholarship. The development of the minor has truly been a community effort and I can’t wait for class to start. As the semester unfolds, we will share more about our adventures with you all!

More about Community Studies:

More about the Office of Engagement and Community Scholarship:

More about the Sharpe Scholars Program:

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