Course Syllabus


Course Description

In our courses, we gain a wide variety of knowledge about community issues/needs. However, often we lack sufficient opportunities to directly engage these issues and miss out on the unique and important experiential learning inherent in such work. This course is a 4-credit, 300-level UNST course that fulfills one of your UNST Cluster requirements through an applied learning experience based on the approaches, theories, and practices of your cluster.

As part of this course, you will participate in a relevant community internship (in the form of a traditional internship or a volunteer placement). You may continue pre-existing work you are doing with an organization (community partner) if you are already engaged in such. In addition to the direct experience of working on one of the many issues raised in the course of your studies in your UNST Cluster, you will also participate in an online class space with your instructor and peers. This complementary experience will allow you to reflect on your experience, inquire critically about social issues, and integrate what you’ve learned from your experience with what you’ve learned in your coursework.

This course is a space to reflect on and look at the community internship work you are doing so that we can better participate in that work, create community to support one another, develop plans for continued engagement at and beyond the university, and understand the connections between the work and larger UNST and Cluster goals. Students will be required to find a community internship before the course starts and should go to and explore resources in the For Students section for assistance. Students who have not found an appropriate volunteer position or internship by the end of week 2 must drop the course.

Course Learning Objectives (And Connections To UNST Goals)

The four University Studies Goals are guideposts for the learning objectives for this course:


Students will enhance their capacity to communicate in various ways—writing, graphics, numeracy, and other visual and oral means—to collaborate effectively with others in group work, and to be competent in appropriate communication technologies.


Students will learn various modes of inquiry through interdisciplinary curricula—problem-posing, investigating, conceptualizing—in order to become active, self-motivated, and empowered learners.


Students will explore and analyze identity, power relationships, and social justice in historical contexts and contemporary settings from multiple perspectives.


Students will expand their understanding of the impact and value of individuals and their choices on society, both intellectually and socially, through group projects and collaboration in learning communities.

Course Learning Objectives

  • Social Engagement to Address Community Challenges
    • Students will evaluate and analyze methods of addressing community issues focused on by their community partners. (inquiry and critical thinking, ethics and social responsibility)
    • Students will explore and develop a values-based approach to their community internships by identifying and building an awareness of their own core values, experience, and motivations, and how those connect to their community work and to values in their Cluster disciplines.(inquiry and critical thinking, ethics and social responsibility)
    • Students will become familiar with basic theories of civic engagement, community problem solving, social justice, and social change. (inquiry and critical thinking, diversity, equity, and social justice) Students will map their community internship goals to the larger UNST goals and to their specific cluster goals, reflecting on the ways their FRINQ and SINQ courses have prepared them for this work, how the work connects to the cluster, and how to extend this work into future courses (including a Capstone) and future graduate school and/or employment. (inquiry and critical thinking)
  • Intersections with Community Work: Power and Privilege
    • Students will develop a basic understanding of the ways issues of power and privilege (including race, class and gender) impact the community of their focus and will apply this understanding to their reflection, action, and understanding of solutions and social justice. (ethics and social responsibility, diversity, equity, and social justice)
    • Students will examine their own lived experience and how it intersects with, connects with, and shapes the community work they are engaged in. (ethics and social responsibility, inquiry and critical thinking)
  • Communication and Professional Development
    • Students will develop and apply professional skills (focusing particularly on written communication skills) that are transferable and applicable to their cluster disciplines, their major, and their future work in the community as employees, leaders, volunteers, and active community advocates. (communication, ethics and social responsibility)
    • Students will utilize various current forms of technology to communicate about their community work and gain fluency with these mediums. (communication)
  • Continued Engagement and Investment in the Learning Pathway
    • Students will consider how they will continue to engage to address community problems.  This plan will include a look forward to planning future cluster and Capstone coursework in addition to future community action, possible graduate and/or employment related to the community problems of focus. (inquiry and critical thinking, communication, ethics and social responsibility)
  • Student-defined line of inquiry
    •  Students will develop, research, and explore critical questions emanating from their community work and cluster goals.

Required Course Texts

Our course texts are available for free online and are accessed through our D2L classroom and the PSU library. I strongly recommend you make hard copies of all printable texts, especially those longer than 1000 words, in order to save your eyes, take good notes, and allow yourself a break from screen time. Believe me, you’ll thank me for this later.

If you have a disability that requires close-captioning of video or audio or other accommodations please let me know ASAP!!

Course Assignments

Community Internship

A Community Internship is a form of experiential learning that can take place within a nonprofit, community-serving organization, an educational institution, or governmental agency.  It is a short-term work experience, most likely as a volunteer, that allows students to integrate the knowledge and theory learned through their academic coursework with practical, hands-on experience in a real-world setting.  Community Internships are meant to include substantive learning and engagement opportunities and provide the intern with an in-depth understanding of the organization and the communities it serves. For the purposes of this course, community internships will be those that work to address specific community issues with their efforts.

Community internships may be paid or unpaid, and in either case will be highly educational in nature and supervised or mentored by a professional.


Each week you’ll have assigned readings and/or videos linked in D2L Course Content. We’ll discuss the readings in our Discussions in D2L and Flipgrid. You’ll also connect your ideas about the readings to your experience in your Journals and Reflections.

Weekly Journals And Reflections

Each week,  you will keep a detailed journal about your field experience working in your community internship. This journal will be both narrative (what happened?) and reflective (what do you think about what happened?).  Journals will be guided by prompts asking students to connect their field work with (a) cluster goals, (b) personal goals, and (c) course texts’ themes and objectives and (d) research questions and findings.  They will be read and responded to by the instructor, who will pose questions and comments to promote deeper reflection and guide the student’s research process. Students will draw from their journals in developing their Final Reflection. Journals and Reflections will be turned in to the Assignments folders in D2L.

Weekly Discussions

We’ll use two Discussion Platforms this term: Flipgrid, an app that allows you to record video of yourself; and D2L Discussions, which is text-based.

Flipgrid can be downloaded as an app to your smart phone.


Students will be asked to do a mid-term written “check-in” with their supervisor at their community partner organization and to write an end of term thank you letter to the contact person at their community internship. Students will also be encouraged to schedule an exit interview with their contact person for the end of the term.

Evolving Reflection: Understanding Social Change

Students will work on bi-weekly reflections for the Evolving Reflection: Understanding Social Change. Students will revisit and revise these reflections into a Final Reflection for the end of the term.

More detailed instructions can be found in Content>Welcome to UNST 321U>Evolving Reflection

General Weekly Timeline Of Due Dates


  • Complete readings
  • Post initial comments in Discussion for the week (Flipgrid or D2L)
  • Check for feedback from instructor on previous week’s journal or reflection in Assignments


  • Post replies to comments in Discussion
  • Complete and turn in your weekly Journal or Reflection

Important Due Dates For The Term

Sunday, week 1 — Complete Online UNST Student Orientation and submit pdf to Assignment folder

Sunday, week 2 — Deadline for beginning volunteer work or internship

Sunday, week 5 — Check in with Community Partner

Sunday, week 9 — Post Story Share Video

Sunday, week 10 — Complete Final Reflection, Course Evaluation, Evaluation of Community Partner, and Thank you letter to Community Partner

Instructor Feedback, Grading, And Assessment

My role as an instructor in this course is more as coach and facilitator. Your role, along with your instructor and classmates, is a co-learner and co-creator of knowledge. Much of the work you do for this class is outside my view and unique to your own personal set of skills and experiences. The “evidence” I have to grade you on is limited to what you share with me in your journals and reflections and with your classmates in discussions. Also, your learning and growth are quite subjective based on your own needs, skills, and experience level. Because of this, we’ll determine together what your grade for the course will be, based on completion, and evaluation of effort and growth.

Throughout the term, I’ll keep track of your completion of assignments in Grades.

At the end of the term, I’ll send you a reminder of the assignments you’ve completed.

You will review the work you’ve done over the term to evaluate your own progress, participation, and completion of the course goals and give yourself a final grade in your final reflection. I will let you know if I disagree with the grade you’ve given yourself, and why.

Generally, I expect you to show evidence of engagement, inquiry, and integration (see course description), and that you went beyond simply meeting the requirements. Specifically, did you respond to my, other students’, or community partner feedback in your work; did you ask interesting and relevant questions and seek out answers to those questions from your community partner, classmates, or outside research; and did you draw new and insightful connections between your work and your learning.

These parameters will align with the “spirit” of the grading system more than with a rigid quantitative breakdown:

100 – 90  = Outstanding; consistently did your best work/made your best effort.

89 – 80 = Good; regularly did your best work/made your best effort

79 – 70 = Average; occasionally did your best work/made your best effort

69 – 60 = Below average; rarely did your best work/made your best effort

59 – 0 = Little or no effort put forth


Discussions are asynchronous, but do end on Sunday night each week. Discussions can’t earn credit if they are posted past Sunday of the week they take place.

Late journals and reflections will be accepted, but students must contact the instructor before they are due.

Technology Requirements

In order to successfully complete this course, you must have daily access to a reliable high speed internet connection. You must have word processing software (Microsoft Office works best). You may need to download free software in order to view or use certain course texts or tools. A microphone and webcam are helpful, but not required, as long as you have a smartphone on which to record video. Some of our tools have apps for smart phones (D2L and Flipgrid). Keep in mind that taking online courses requires the ability to be flexible and resourceful when it comes to navigating online tools and formats. You will have to figure out unfamiliar tools, formats, and environments, sometimes with help, sometimes on your own. Welcome to the 21st century 🙂 A learning outcome of this course is that you will learn to communicate with new, unfamiliar technologies.

The D2L Platform

Our course takes place in Desire2Learn (D2L), the learning management system adopted by PSU. Within D2L, you’ll find links to Flipgrid, the other communication platform we’ll be using.

D2L Homepage

This is the first page you’ll see when you log in to D2L Courses. This is where you access your individual courses. On this homepage you’ll find general D2L announcements, such as system maintenance updates. You will need to “pin” your current courses to have them show up on this page. You can also access help and tutorials using the buttons on the D2L banner.

Course Homepage

This is the page you’ll see when you open our course. On it, you’ll find “widgets,” boxes that have important course information and resources including Announcements — updates from instructor, Library Resources — a website for library resources customized for our course project, DRC — a website for the Disability Resource Center, and more.


This is the “door” to the class. Everything you’ll need to complete the course work is here in a linear “stack” organized by weekly modules. When you open a file in Course Content, you can click through each item in order using the arrows on the upper right of your screen, or skip around by clicking on an item title in the Table of Contents on the left of your screen.

Course Navigation Bar

Use the  navigation bar at the top of our course screen to access the course tools specifically:

Content (See Above)



A list of all the tasks due each week as well as the due date.


Where you can access the D2L Discussion tool directly. There you’ll find a forum called “General Course Questions: Raise Your Hand — Help Each Other Out. This is a place to post questions you think other students might have or know the answer to.