Community Engaged Learning, also referred to as Community-Based Learning (CBL), involves combining formal classroom study of a particular issue with direct "real-world" exposure to the issue in a community setting. The community component of a CBL course might involve student internships, guest lectures by representatives of community organizations, field research involving community agencies, or any combination of these approaches. Liberal arts colleges have increasingly experimented with CBL, and with reason; such courses have the potential to enliven curriculum. More importantly, they can open students to new ways of thinking about both their future careers and the roles they can play as citizens in ameliorating social problems such as environmental degradation, poverty, illiteracy, and disengaged youth.
All Hampshire students are required to complete a community engagement requirement before they achieve advanced standing at the College. Approximately half participate in off-campus internships of some significant duration (summer, semester, or longer). In recent years, students have increasingly approached their advisors with requests to incorporate their internship experiences into work at the Division II (equivalent to the major) or Division III (senior thesis) levels.
CPSC has always recognized the importance of relationships with faculty as an important link in the CBL chain. Students' original interest in CBL issues often begins in the classroom and is sparked by a vibrant professor teaching in an innovative way. CPSC provides opportunities for students to continue some of the work in the community that may have started as coursework such as a research project, interviews, internships, teaching assistance, etc. Another important aspect of faculty relationship to CPSC is in reconnecting the student's experience in the field with a theoretical base and testing these two against each other.