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Center for Civic Engagement

Community-Based Learning Course Projects at WSU

Faculty and students present on the Pullman historic red brick roads.

The combination of academic coursework and service learning has contributed to the growth and learning of students in many disciplines. Service learning is designed to help students increase their understanding of coursework by putting concepts into practice. What does it really mean to be a public historian, scientist, criminal justice professional, or landscape architect? Service learning provides opportunities for real, hands-on experiences within the community.

  • Architecture 494/520: Seminar in Urban and Regional Planning (2013)

    In spring 2013, nine Washington State University (WSU) students worked to preserve Pullman’s remaining two blocks of red brick roads located on Palouse and Maple streets on College Hill. Led by Dr. Phil Gruen, associate professor in the School of Design and Construction, these students prepared an application to have the brick roads listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Gruen said this project helps legitimize “the historic significance of the built environment.”

    This historic red brick roads preservation project began in 2012 when Allison Munch-Rotolo, chair of the College Hill Association, approached Gruen and Michael Schwartz-Oscar, a past assistant director in the WSU Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), with an interesting proposal to have WSU students work on this project. “College Hill residents really connect with these brick streets; the way they look, feel and even sound is distinctive and contributes to the neighborhood’s unique sense of place. I hope the research the students are conducting will help more people to appreciate the streets and perhaps ultimately to preserve them for future generations to experience,” said Munch-Rotolo. Currently, seven properties and one district in Pullman have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Munch-Rotolo, Gruen and Schwartz-Oscar hope the remaining red brick roads join these locations on the register.

    Gruen agreed to take on the project, and in spring 2013, his Architecture 494/520 class started working toward the preservation of Pullman’s remaining brick roads. Student Robert Franklin, a member of the class seeking a degree in Public History, said of the project, “Red brick is a symbol of Pullman, from downtown to WSU. The red brick streets are an essential part of the historic characteristics of Pullman, and in seeking to preserve this historical heritage, a total approach should be adopted. The street does not just lead to the home or office; it is a part of the journey and a part of history.”

  • Architecture 494/520: Seminar in Urban and Regional Planning (2014)

    In spring 2014, Dr. Phil Gruen reprised the Architecture 494/520 course with co-instructor Robert Franklin. The project for this semester involved developing a new Pullman walking tour brochure for the Pullman Historic Preservation Commission. As part of the brochure development process, the class researched and discussed issues of historic preservation, tourism and urban promotion. Students also conducted archival research, contributed original sketches and maps for the brochure, and developed a unique narrative that reads the city’s downtown as illustrative of major themes that have shaped Pullman over time.

    At the end of the semester, the class presented their walking tour brochure to the City of Pullman on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at the WSU Brelsford Visitor Center. The recording of the presentation can be viewed below, and updates on the project are available on the class' Facebook page.

  • Biology 331: Nutrition in the Human Life Cycle

    In the fall of 2013, students enrolled in Dr. Kathy Beerman’s Biology 331 course worked closely with community partners on projects related to food and nutrition. Students worked with Backyard Harvest, Community Action Center, Council on Aging and Human Services, Moscow Doula Services and Parent Education, and StoreHouse. Students split into groups based on their interest areas and did a wide variety of service projects. For example, those who worked with CAC created recipe cards, including nutritional facts, for healthy meals that can be made with food available at the local food bank. They also created a series of short cooking videos that show how to make one of the recipes.

    Every semester Community Action Center seeks new and innovative ways to spread the word about the many services they provide to our community, to make these services more accessible to those in need, and to empower WSU students to create positive change in the local community. A few of the many great benefits of these recipe projects include: WSU students learned a great deal about restrictions and challenges associated with nutrition for those in poverty; the community was provided with new resources for ways in which food items at the local food banks can be used to create healthy meals; and CAC was able to find yet another creative way to better serve their target population.

  • Criminal Justice 499: Special Problems - Prisoner Debate Project

    Beginning in spring 2012, Dr. Faith Lutze with the support of the CCE began pursuing a debate program with the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. For this program, WSU students in the CrimJ 499 course work with Coyote Ridge inmate students enrolled in the Debate and Dialogue Program. Debate topics are selected by both WSU and Coyote Ridge students, and students from both institutions work together to develop their arguments and major points. Debate topics must be a current criminal justice issue such as gun control or juvenile justice reform. After developing their debate topic, the teams, which consist of both WSU students and inmate students, meet at Coyote Ridge to hold a debate on their topic.

    This project has been a positive experience for both WSU students and the inmate students. Both groups are afforded the opportunity to interact with and develop a project with individuals they normally would not have contact with all while learning more about their selected topic.

  • Criminal Justice/Women's Studies 403 (Online): Violence Toward Women

    Students in the online Criminal Justice/Women’s Studies 403 course, Violence Toward Women, are required to complete 20 hours of service learning over the course of the semester. The purpose of the assignment is to connect course materials to policies and practices implemented through agencies to serve victims and survivors of interpersonal and power based violence.

    WSU online student, Ms. Stacy Moate worked with the Washington State Patrol to create this impactful video entitled Decisions. Ms. Moate played a large part in creating the video to educate people about the consequences of drinking and driving. She was the primary detective on the investigation of the collision and dealt with the crash from the very beginning. She met with Mr. Peder after sentencing and decided to work with him and with the families of the young men he killed to produce an awareness video.

    Ms. Moate and a Washington State Patrol trooper worked together to find a company to produce the video and wrote a grant to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to secure funding for the project. Once funding was secured and a production company was hired she worked directly with the company to generate content for the video. Ms. Moate then conducted all of the interviews. She wrote the question guides for the interviews and provided the necessary statistics to be included in the video. The video is available to anyone to use for training and awareness to educate people about their decisions to drive under the influence.

  • Landscape Architecture 363: Landscape Architectural Design IV

    In the spring of 2014, Steve Austin’s Landscape Architecture 363 students worked with the Community Action Center (CAC) to develop a master plan for an edible landscape project and overall sustainable living design for their headquarters and low income properties. Students also collaborated with the CAC to develop a design for a 4-acre children's garden at Conservation Park in Pullman. Students learned about transition, which is the process where communities and individuals take the steps necessary to lead low carbon, low impact lives. This is necessary because of the need to dramatically scale back fossil fuel use to limit the catastrophic effects of global warming. Students worked with the CAC to retrofit their properties for transition. Students gained knowledge about the specific needs of the community, the CAC and contributed big picture ideas from their field. The students presented their designs to community members for the various projects they completed.

    Community Action Center works to empower the people and communities of Whitman County to be self sustaining by promoting the self reliance of people with low to moderate income and promoting cooperation between local communities to enhance social and economic resource development.