Community Based Courses


Community-based courses connect classroom concepts to community needs in order to enhance learning, promote active citizenship and foster mutually beneficial ties between the campus and community. In partnership with local agencies, students in community-based courses apply the knowledge and analytical skills gained in the classroom to address environmental, social and cultural issues within the community. Whether they conduct interviews and report findings, take and test soil or water samples, review and summarize research or policy options, create public art or instructional materials or research the many layers of a societal issue, students complete their work both to expand their understanding of a subject and to benefit the agency to whom they present their projects. Independent study offers another venue for building on a college-community partnership or for laying the groundwork for future individual or group projects.

Since the year 2000 more than 25 Bowdoin faculty in more than 40 courses across the curriculum have engaged some 500 students in community-based projects through partnerships with nearly 50 community agencies. The following community-based courses are being offered this semester.

Fall 2013 Courses

  • ANTH 201: Anthropological Research (K. Fayard)
  • CS 315: Open Source Software Development (A. Tucker)
  • EDUC 222: Educational Psychology (K. Byrnes)
  • EDUC 301 & 303: Teaching & Learning (N. Jennings & C. Meehan)
  • ES 204: Intro to Geographic Information Systems (E. Johnson)
  • GOV 285: Politics of Language (E. Albaugh)
  • PSYCH 210: Infant and Child Development (M. Gingo)
  • SPAN 45: Ecological Thought in Latin American Literature (E. Yepes)
  • VART 365: Public Art (M. Wethli)

Sample Courses

  • ANTH 201 - Anthropological Research (J. Brunson)
  • ASIAN 323 – Topics in Chinese Painting (D. Lee)
  • BIO 158/CHEM 105/ES 201 - Perspectives in Environmental Science (J. Lichter, D. Vasudevan)
  • BIO 394/ES 394 - Ecology and Environmental History of Merrymeeting Bay (J. Lichter)
  • CS 101 – Introduction to Computer Science (L.Toma )
  • ECON 231b – Economics of the Lifecycle (R.Connelly)
  • EDUC 203 - Educating all Students (D. Santoro)
  • EDUC 301 - Teaching (K. Templeton)
  • EOS 104 – Environmental Geology and Hydrology (P. Lea)
  • EOS 103 – Marine Environmental Geology (E. Laine)
  • EOS 250 – Marine Geology and Tectonics (E. Laine)
  • ES 202/GOV 214 – Environmental Policy and Politics (D. John)
  • ES 203/HIS 242 – Environment and Culture in North American History (M. Klingle)
  • ES 204 – Intro to Geographic Information Systems (K. Ford)
  • ES 364 – Environmental Policy and Politics in Maine (D. John)
  • ES 391 – Troubled Waters: Fishing in the Gulf of Maine (A. Hayden, D. John)
  • FR 204 – Intermediate French II (K. Dauge-Roth)
  • FR 309 - Joan of Arc and La Marianne in French Literature and Culture (A. Curulla)
  • GOV 209 - Introduction to Political Behavior (M. Franz)
  • GOV 220 - The Politics of Development (E. Albaugh)
  • GWS 201 – Feminist Theory and Methodology (J. Scanlon)
  • HIST 242/ES 203 - Environment and Culture in North American History (M. Klingle)
  • HIST 247 – Maine A Community and Environmental History (S. McMahon)
  • IDEP 200 – Examining Poverty (N. Jennings and S. Dorn)
  • IDEP 240 – Maine Social Research (C. McEwen)
  • PSYC 210 - Infant and Child Development
  • SOC 218 - Sociology of Law (C. McEwen)
  • SPAN 204 - Intermediate Spanish II (E. Wheelwright)
  • SPAN 205c – Advanced Spanish (E. Yepes)
  • V ART 190 – Architectural Design I (W. Theodore)
  • V ART 265 – Public Art (M. Wethli)

Past Courses

Sample courses/projects

The forms for community-based projects are as varied as the academic disciplines they represent, and may comprise a small part of a course or be the central focus for the whole semester. The following is a small sample of the varied ways that students have put classroom learning into practice in the community.

Biology 158/Chemistry 180: Perspectives in Environmental Science

Professors: John Lichter, Dharni Vasudevan
Community partners: The Nature Conservancy, Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area

Students analyzed the effects of salt marsh restoration on a local marsh and compared impacted and unimpacted marshes to determine effects of impacts and/or restoration activities.

EDU 210b. Infant and Child Development.
Professor: Samuel P. Putnam
Community Partner: various (example, Children’s Center, Bowdoin College)

A survey of major changes in psychological functioning from conception through childhood. Several theoretical perspectives are used to consider how physical, personality, social, and cognitive changes jointly influence the developing child’s interactions with the environment. Students do various work and observation of children in the Brunswick community.

EDU 215: Education 215: Adolescents in Schools
Professor: Kathryn Byrnes
Community Partner: Brunswick Public Schools

This course engages Bowdoin students in a study of adolescent development within the context of teaching and learning in schools. Topics include physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of the secondary school student and how their development impacts and is impacted by the learning environment. The students spend 24 hours tutoring/mentoring an adolescent currently in middle or high school at Brunswick High School, Brunswick Junior High School or Morse High School. The field placement an opportunity to think deeply, critically and concretely about various perspectives and strategies discussed in the course within the context of a young person's life. A second purpose is to provide needed support for youth who are currently ”underserved” by our educational system in some way. This project/field experience is an important opportunity for students to build a relationship with an adolescent and learn what is it like to be in her or his shoes.

French 204: Living, Learning and Language
Professor: Katherine Dauge-Roth
Community partner: Mt. Ararat High School

Focusing on the theme of how school and family shape identity, students planned and led weekly conversational French Cafés, prepared instructional materials for high school teachers to use in class, and hosted a French and Francophone Festival immersion experience at Bowdoin for 30 high school students.

THEATER 120: Acting I
Professor: Abigail Killeen
Community Partner: Mid Coast Senior Health Center

Introduces students to the intellectual, vocal, physical, and emotional challenge of the acting process. Students examine theatrical texts and practice the art of translating intellectual analysis into embodied performance. Fundamentals of text analysis are learned and practiced, preparing students for the more complex performance work required in all sections of Acting II.

Visual Art 265: Public Art
Professor: Mark Wethli
Community Partners: Swinging Bridge Committee, Woodside Elementary School

Students examined the creation and production of public artworks from start to finish, including community engagement and research; site investigation; formulation of proposals through drawings, photos, models and Photoshop renderings; seeking approvals; collaborating with agencies and individuals; and learning the means and materials used in the creation of finished, typically large-scale artworks. The project culminated in designing an artwork celebrating Woodside Elementary School’s 15th anniversary.

For more information on community-based courses or if you're interested in including a community component in your course please contact Janice Jaffe at or 798-4156.