Community Engaged Learning (CEL)

Learning That Fosters Change.

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is a mode of teaching in which Millsaps students and professors collaborate with local organizations on projects that simultaneously advance the organization’s goals and support our students’ learning. Through Millsaps’s numerous partnerships across the central Mississippi region, our students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and use what they learn to make a difference in the real world.

CEL coursework at Millsaps underscores the critical connection between learning and doing, giving our students the knowledge and experience to be engaged and impactful members of their communities throughout their lives.

What makes CEL unique at Millsaps?

Millsaps College is located in the capital of Mississippi. Jackson is a regional crossroads for culture, public policy, health care and education. Our location in the midst of a thriving metropolitan area provides extensive opportunities for our students. Through our partnerships with a wide range of organizations, our students do real work and make meaningful change across a broad spectrum of areas including arts and culture, education, health and medicine, government, science and social services.

Who Does It?

Everyone! CEL classes are taught within all disciplines of the college, including Art, Biology, Business, Communications, Creative Writing, Education, English, Government and Politics, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Spanish and Sociology. Students in recent CEL courses have facilitated activities for disabled adults, written plans for local businesses, engaged in writing workshops with incarcerated authors, helped young children grow as artists and contributed to local public health initiatives. Other CEL projects have given our students the opportunity to tutor Sudanese refugees, conduct market research, work on local sustainable farms, contribute to public historical resources, work on local political campaigns and help English language learners develop conversation skills.

Sample CEL Courses

Campaigns and Election (GOVT 3000)
Community Partner: various campaign organizations
Students examine the political campaigns and the electoral process from the perspectives of practitioners such as political professionals who manage and work on campaigns, the activists and donors who help power them, the candidates themselves and the voters who are charged with making the final decisions at the ballot box.

Crime and Prisons (SOAN 2750)
Community Partner: Henley-Young Detention Center, various speakers
Using a sociological perspective to examine the nature of crime, the creation of crime and criminals and our past and contemporary penal system, students will develop a mentoring program. They will make direct connections with juveniles currently in the system, the legal aspects of crime and crime and mental health. Through these connections and discussions, students will have the opportunity to understand crime and prisons as situated in the larger economic and political contexts.

Disability Psychology (PSYC 3320)
Community partner: The Mustard Seed
The class will engage with people with disabilities by developing and facilitating activities at The Mustard Seed, a residential community and day-time activity center for adults with a variety of disabilities. Through this engagement, students will understand how disabilities impact people in real ways, and how people with disabilities contribute in real ways to our society.

Environmental Ethics (PHIL 2120/PEAC 2750)
Community Partner: Two Run Farms and Garden Farmacy
In this class students will study approaches to the idea of “environment” and will be introduced to debates surrounding ecological issues, such as climate change, food ethics, animal issues, ethics of sports hunting and environmental-scarcity triggered violence. Engagement with two contrasting local farming projects will deepen our engagement with these issues.

History of Mental Illness in the South (HIST 2130)
Community partner: Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at UMMC
This course examines the history of mental illness in the south, 1800-1950, focusing on the Mississippi Lunatic Asylum. Students conduct primary research using asylum admissions and death records, court cases, newspapers and interviews with asylum patient descendants and develop short essays for the public-facing history section of the Asylum Hill Project’s website.

Intermediate Spanish (SPAN 1010)
Community partner: Marista University
Students pair with students from the Marista University in Mérida, Yucatán, México to converse in Spanish and English. By actively participating in one-on-one conversation with a Spanish, native-speaking student, students improve their capacity to express themselves in Spanish and learn about cultural differences.

Many Dimensions of Poverty (SOAN 2120)
Community partner: Operation Upward
An introductory course examining American poverty as a problem for individuals, families and societies. This course examines historical and contemporary conceptualizations and measurements of poverty, causes of poverty and the legal, political and social implications of poverty for society. Students will have the opportunity to work directly with those receiving food assistance through state/city-funded food programs and food banks.

Practicum in Arts Education (EDUC 2990)
Community Partner: Mississippi Children’s Museum
Students learn the methods, principles and possibilities of arts education by designing and implementing an after-school arts enrichment course, including drama, music and visual art, at the Mississippi Children’s Museum.

Seminar for Future Educators (EDUC 4300)
Community partner: various education-related organizations
By combining individualized field placement with group discussion, this course offers students deep exploration of an area of professional interest. We examine trends, principles, methods and theories across education-allied disciplines such as classroom teaching, educational administration, public health, school counseling, speech/language therapy and sports coaching. Recent field placements have included Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, Magnolia Speech School and Richland High School administration and athletics.

Community Partners

Millsaps cares about each of our students and supports their career planning and mental health needs. Our Center for Career Education guides our students through career options, whether it’s graduate school applications or connecting with a prospective employer before graduation. In addition, we offer mental health services through counseling, and our Chaplain is available to help you with your spiritual needs—no matter your affiliation.

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