2017-18 Catalog

Academic Opportunities

Praxis Program

The Praxis Program, one of the programs offered through the Leadership, Innovation and Liberal Arts Center (LILAC), promotes the development of experiential learning and ethical engagement with community-based organizations and issues in connection with the Bryn Mawr academic curriculum. 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. 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. The three designated types of Praxis courses—Praxis I and II Departmental courses and Praxis Independent Study courses—are described below and https://www.brynmawr.edu/lilac/experiential-learning/praxis-courses.

Praxis courses are distinguished by genuine collaboration with community based 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. 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 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 in 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 advisor. 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 their 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 complete the Praxis Independent Study Tutorial, available on the website, attend one of the LILAC Internship workshops and review additional online resource materials. Once they have completed the Praxis Independent Study Tutorial, students are invited to schedule an appointment with one of the Praxis Program Directors, Nell Anderson or Kelly Strunk, for additional guidance in developing a Praxis Independent Study course. A brief online Praxis Proposal, declaring their intention to develop a Praxis Independent Study course should be submitted before or after that appointment.

The Praxis Proposal requires approval from the student’s dean and major advisor. Once students have submitted their proposals, they are enrolled in a Moodle course that guides them in developing the Praxis Independent Study Learning Plan.

The Praxis Independent Study Learning Plan—which must include a description of the course, learning objectives, all stipulated coursework, identification of the faculty supervisor, field site, field site supervisor and fieldwork responsibilities— should be submitted online by the end of the semester prior to their enrollment in the Praxis Independent Study course. The Praxis Program Director will review and approve the plan and will notify the Registrar’s Office that the student can be officially registered for the course.