Experiential Learning Options

Experiential and Community-Engaged Learning

Experiential learning is a process through which a student develops knowledge, skills and values from direct experiences. Experiential learning allows students to learn through action in addition to their classroom experiences. Academic experiential education at Brandeis includes community-engaged learning, internships and other activities including performances, lab work and creative and studio work. Additional details about experiential learning at Brandeis and course listings may be found at www.brandeis.edu/experientiallearning.

Community-engaged learning (CEL) initiatives at Brandeis draw students, faculty, staff and community members into conversations about citizenship and social responsibility. In our academic and volunteer programs, we seek to develop sustainable and productive partnerships with organizations and communities beyond the boundaries of campus, in ways that help address pressing social needs and foster democratic participation in civic life.

Community-engaged learning is an aspect of the university's broad-based commitment to experiential learning. By integrating hands-on practice and thoughtful reflection, CEL projects enhance the university's commitments to social justice and academic rigor. In local, regional and international projects, we encourage students to assume important leadership roles, building linkages with community actors and reflecting upon the nature of equitable and sustainable partnerships.

Additional details may be found at www.brandeis.edu/community-engaged/, along with a listing of CEL courses.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Brandeis offers special opportunities for undergraduates to engage in scholarly research under the guidance of the faculty. Funds are available on a competitive basis to support student research enterprises during the academic year and during the summer months. Further details about research opportunities for undergraduates may be obtained from the Office of Academic Services.

Internship for Credit

Internships allow students to apply the liberal arts skills of research, writing and analysis in work-world situations, thereby enhancing the development of these skills. A credit-bearing internship should have a significant academic component, provide a valuable learning experience for the undergraduate and make a meaningful contribution to the student's program of study. It should require use of research, writing and/or analytical skills and include a specific project to be accomplished in the designated time period.

Brandeis offers three different forms of credit-bearing internships. Structured internships, which include weekly meetings as a class, are offered by departments under the course number 89. Internship courses, which are individually arranged by a single student and instructor, are offered under the course number 92. Research-based internship courses, which are individually arranged by a single student and instructor around a research project, are offered with the course number 93 and the course title Research Internship.

All internship courses are subject to the normal enrollment deadlines; specific directions for registering can be found on the Schedule of Classes each semester. Participation is normally limited to juniors and seniors. International students wishing to complete internships must enroll in an internship course, meet visa requirements and obtain approval from ISSO for all internships.

A student may not receive credit for more than two such courses, the equivalent of eight credits. Students interested in pursuing an internship while on study abroad should contact the Office of Study Abroad for further information on procedures and requirements specific to such opportunities.

Students may also apply for transcript notation for internships that would not otherwise qualify for academic credit through a program administered by the Hiatt Career Center. Transcript notation allows the university to recognize career-related learning experiences by including them on the official student transcript, provided that these internships have concrete career-related learning goals and outcomes, as determined by a committee of Hiatt staff members and other administrators. For further information, please visit the Hiatt Career Center Web site.

Expected Components of Academic Year Internships
Students should work the equivalent of at least 10 and no more than 15 hours per week for at least 10 weeks of a 13-week semester. Students should complete readings and written assignments considered appropriate by the instructor. Examples of assignments include submission of an annotated bibliography of readings relevant to the work site, several short papers (or one long paper), a journal or log of experiences and papers completed for the internship.

Faculty sponsors meet with interns at least once every two weeks to discuss learning objectives, research methodologies, the bibliography or other assignments, work-site experiences and so on. Faculty sponsors and site supervisors should communicate at the beginning, midterm and end of the semester. The academic work related to the internship should contribute a significant portion of the final grade, but work performed at the internship may also be included in the grading process. The grade for the internship course is determined solely by the faculty member.

Expected Components of Summer Internships
Credit for a summer internship may be earned during the following fall semester if the internship and appropriate academic work are successfully completed. Students should observe the guidelines established for academic year internships with the following adjustments. Arrangements with the faculty sponsor should be completed prior to the student's leaving Brandeis at the end of the spring term. Students should work the equivalent of at least six weeks and at least 100 hours during the summer internship; for example, 10 hours per week for 10 weeks, 17 hours per week for six weeks and so on.

Faculty sponsors should meet with students at least six times during the fall semester to supervise readings and written assignments related to the internship. Although work performed at the internship site may be included in the grading process, the internship grade is determined solely by the faculty member.

Undergraduate Peer Assistantships for Credit

Peer Assistantships yields many benefits to undergraduate teachers and learners. The university has established uniform standards for the utilization of undergraduate peer assistants and for the awarding of academic credit for such activities. Opportunities to serve as peer assistants are by invitation and generally limited to juniors and seniors who have demonstrated exceptional academic achievement. Undergraduates serving in this capacity may be compensated for their services or receive one, and only one, semester course credit for their assistance during their Brandeis career.

Credit-bearing peer assistantships are enrolled under the course number PEER 94a and are subject to the normal enrollment procedures and deadlines. Peer assistant courses are offered exclusively on a credit/no-credit grading basis and are not factored into the student's GPA.