2015-16 catalog

The Academic Program


Praxis Program

Praxis is an experiential, community-based learning program that integrates theory and practice through student engagement in active, relevant fieldwork. 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—Praxis I and II Departmental courses and Praxis Independent Study courses—are described below and at http://www.brynmawr.edu/ceo/programs/praxis/.

Praxis courses are distinguished by genuine collaboration with fieldsite organizations. The nature of fieldwork assignments and projects varies according to the learning objectives for the course and according to the needs of the community partner. In most Praxis courses, students are engaged in field placements or working on community-connected projects that meet an identified need in the community.

The Praxis Program is one of the Civic Engagement programs that is offered through the Leadership, Innovation and Liberal Arts Center (LILAC).Praxis Program staff assist faculty in identifying, establishing and supporting field placements in a wide variety of organizations, such as public health centers, community art programs, museums, community-development and social service agencies, schools, and local government offices. Faculty members are responsible for integrating the Praxis component into the course through process and reflection. As with all other courses, faculty evaluate student work and progress.

The three types of Praxis courses require increasing amounts of fieldwork but do not need to be taken successively. Praxis I and II courses are offered within a variety of academic departments and are developed by faculty in those departments. Praxis Independent Study courses are developed by individual students, in collaboration with faculty field supervisors, and Praxis staff. Students may enroll in more than one Praxis course at a time and are sometimes able to use the same field placement to meet the requirements of both courses.

Praxis I Departmental Courses provide opportunities for students to explore and develop community connections in relation to the course topic by incorporating a variety of activities into the syllabus, such as: field trips to local organizations, guest speakers from those organizations, and assignments that ask students to research local issues. In some cases, students in Praxis I courses are engaged an introductory fieldwork activities; the time commitment for this fieldwork does not exceed 2 hours per week or 20 hours per semester.

Praxis II Departmental Courses include a more substantial fieldwork component that engages students in activities and projects off-campus that are linked directly to course objectives and are useful to the community partner. The time commitment for fieldwork varies greatly from course to course but falls within the range of 2-7 hours per week or 20-70 hours per semester. Praxis II courses might include: weekly fieldwork in local classrooms or community-based organizations; conducting research that has been requested by a community partner; project-based activities such as creating a curriculum, designing a website, or curating a museum exhibit. The Praxis Fieldwork Agreement is an important part of all Praxis II courses. This document outlines the learning and placement objectives of the Praxis component and is signed by the course instructor, the field supervisor, the Praxis coordinator and the student.

Praxis Independent Study places fieldwork at the center of a supervised learning experience and gives students the opportunity to design their own course and select their own field placement. The fieldwork for Praxis Independent Study consists of 8-10 hours per week for 12 weeks. Typically, students complete two, 4-to-5 hour visits per week. Fieldwork is supported by appropriate readings and regular meetings with a faculty member who must agree in advance to supervise the project. Students receive additional support from the Praxis staff, who conduct reflection sessions for each semester’s Praxis cohort, visit each student’s field site once a semester to meet with the student and her supervisor, and coordinate a Praxis Poster Session.

Praxis Independent Study is an option for sophomore and higher-level students who are in good academic standing. Students are eligible to take up to two Praxis Independent Study courses during their time at Bryn Mawr.

Advance planning is required for students wanting to develop a Praxis Independent Study course. At least one semester ahead of time, students should review the online resource materials and attend a Praxis Independent Study Information Session, held once a month during the academic year. In addition, they must complete the brief 1-page Praxis Proposal, declaring their intent to develop such a course, and discuss their plans with their Major Advisors as well as their Deans. The Praxis Proposal needs to be signed by the student’s Dean and submitted to the Praxis Program Director at the time of pre-registration. Praxis staff members will then provide guidance to the students in setting up their courses..

The Praxis Independent Study 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 Learning plan is approved, at which point a course registration number will be created.