2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog

Praxis Program

The Praxis Program is part of the Civic Engagement Office and is located in Dolwen on Cambrian Row. Praxis is an experiential, community-based learning program that integrates theory and practice through student engagement in active, relevant fieldwork, enhances student learning and builds citizenship skills. The program provides consistent, equitable guidelines along with curricular coherence and support to students and faculty who wish to combine coursework with fieldwork and community-based research. The three designated types of Praxis courses—departmental courses, interdepartmental seminars and independent studies—are described below and at http://www.brynmawr.edu/praxis.

Praxis courses on all levels are distinguished by genuine collaboration with fieldsite organizations. A dynamic process of reflection incorporates lessons learned in the field into the classroom setting and applies theoretical understanding gained through classroom study to work done in the broader community. The nature of fieldwork assignments and projects varies according to the learning objectives for the course and according to the needs of the organization.

The role of the Praxis Office is to assist faculty in identifying, establishing and supporting field placements and to develop ongoing partnerships with community organizations, such as social service agencies, schools, government offices and museums. Field supervisors orient the student to the fieldsite, identify placement objectives and oversee the work of the student at the site. Field supervisors frequently visit the classroom as guest presenters and co-teachers. Faculty members retain ultimate responsibility and control over the components of the Praxis Program that make it distinctly academic: course reading and discussion, rigorous process and reflection, and formal presentation and evaluation of student progress.

There are three levels of Praxis courses (see below), which require increasing amounts of fieldwork but do not need to be taken successively: departmental courses (Praxis I), interdepartmental seminars (Praxis II) and independent study (Praxis III). Praxis courses may be offered in any department and students may enroll in more than one Praxis course at a time. Students enrolled in more than one Praxis course are sometimes able to use the same field placement to meet the requirements of both courses. Praxis-style courses taken at other institutions are subject to prior approval by the Praxis Office and faculty supervisor.

Praxis I Departmental Course uses fieldwork as a form of experiential learning to enrich the study and understanding of a single disciplinary topic. Fieldwork typically constitutes 25 percent of total coursework assigned. Students typically complete one, two- to three-hour fieldsite visit a week. Students are eligible for Praxis I courses according to departmental guidelines.

Praxis II Interdepartmental Seminar is a multidisciplinary course combining more substantial fieldwork with an academic focus on a central topic (e.g., geographic location, historical period, social issue, etc.) studied from several disciplinary perspectives. Fieldwork typically constitutes 50 percent of total coursework assigned. Students typically complete two, two- to three-hour fieldsite visits a week. Praxis II courses are available to sophomore and higher-level students who are in good academic standing.

Praxis III Independent Study places fieldwork at the center of a supervised learning experience. Fieldwork is supported by appropriate readings and regular meetings with a faculty member who must agree in advance to supervise the project. Faculty are not obligated to supervise Praxis III courses and may decline to do so. Departments may limit the number of Praxis III courses that a faculty member may supervise.

Students who plan to undertake Praxis III Independent Study should submit a completed Praxis III proposal to their dean for her/his signature at pre-registration and then return the form to the Praxis Office to be reviewed by the Praxis Program Director. The Praxis III learning plan—which must include a description of the student’s course, all stipulated coursework, a faculty supervisor, a fieldsite, a fieldsite supervisor and fieldwork responsibilities—must be approved by the Praxis Program Director by the beginning of the semester in which the course will take place. The Praxis Program Director will notify the Registrar’s Office when the Praxis III learning plan is approved, at which point a course registration number will be created for the course. Students are encouraged to visit the Praxis Office to discuss possible field placements, although they are not discouraged from developing their own fieldsites.

Praxis III fieldwork typically constitutes 75 percent of total coursework assigned, with students typically completing two, four- to five-hour fieldsite visits per week. Praxis III courses are available to sophomore and higher-level students who are in good academic standing. No student may take more than two Praxis III courses during her time at Bryn Mawr.