Student Engagement and Activism
Professional Writing Major Special Semester
The Semester @ SEA emulates elements of a study abroad semester and of a service learning project. Like study abroad, the students work with others in their major, taking a set of intensive thematically linked classes. Following the model of service learning initiatives, the students work locally, engaged with a community organization. The Semester @ SEA offers coordinated Professional Writing classes that provide a 9-hour senior experience that contributes to our graduates’ accomplishments and maturity. For our inaugural project, we worked directly with the Tippecanoe County Historical Association to restructure the exhibits at Fort Ouiatenon in ways that will highlight the Fort’s importance to both migration and immigration in 18th century Indiana and to retain it as a vital space of learning and exploration for visitors and scholars in the 21st century. In structure, this curricular project draws on components from study abroad and from service learning classes. Professional Writing Majors will have the option of co-registering for two or more classes simultaneously, including a professional writing internship class in spring semester of 2008, in order to foster student engagement in an extended community partnership. Students attended meals and seminars, went on field trips, and prepared documents for use by a community organization in order to both engage the Lafayette Community and extend their learning experience beyond formal classroom time.
The Semester @ SEA program seeks to enrich the educational experience of the English Department’s Professional Writing Majors by extending their educational experience beyond formal classroom limits. Engagement with a committed community agency offers advanced undergraduate students opportunity to analyze, research, and build solutions for community problems. Extending engagement beyond the boundaries of individual formal classes will allow students to experience an immersive educational experience where their studies are transformed from learning about community issues to engaging and addressing community needs, ultimately serving as a resource for the grater Lafayette community. Engagement with TCHA is expected to continue over time, making this a long-term site of community engagement. Faculty will also have an opportunity to work with undergraduate students beyond the confines of formal classroom instruction, fostering a greater sense of program camaraderie. And finally, the community will have an engaged and committed partner: this program moves beyond limits imposed by classroom and semester limits of instruction.