Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Community-Based Learning


Prior to completeing the Faculty Proposal form below, you are asked to review the Human Subject Study and Animal Study Policies & Guidelines.

Faculty Proposal Form for Community-based Learning Course


Learning outside of the classroom walls

Community-based Learning (CBL) is an academic pedagogy that links traditional classroom learning to real, hands-on experiences and learning in the larger community. Students are challenged to link the theories that they learn in the classroom to the realities in the field. Some examples of CBL opportunities include F&M students working on political asylum cases with a local non-profit legal organization, students working with a local judge in a Drug-court setting, or students teaching School District of Lancaster students about artifacts from the Thaddeus Steven’s archeological dig.

CBL differs from voluntarism in that students are prompted to intentionally reflect on their experiences and link their hands-on experience with readings and lectures. The relationship between the community and the students is reciprocal, in that students learn from the community, but also provide a valuable service to the community.

Activities undertaken with the community outside the classroom provide students with experiences to test the theories and ideas they learn in their course lectures and assignments.  In the Lancaster area, this could mean working with a museum, social service agency, municipality or other organization which is related to the subject being studied.

Guided reflection activities, in the form of papers, journals, or in-class discussions, further enable students to perceive and grapple with the connections between their coursework and their work in the community.  

Key Components of CBL
  • Commitment to community partnerships
  • Learning and academic rigor
  • Internal reflective thinking
  • Practice of civic responsibility

Students have the opportunity to take advantage of Franklin & Marshall's location in Lancaster's urban setting by engaging in learning situations in the community through Community-Based Learning courses, as well as through projects sponsored by The Ware Institute.  Students are able to access Lancaster through walking, bicycling, public transportation, personal vehicles and/or F&M vehicle transport.

The Ware Institutue arranges all the contacts and logistical details for students and faculty who incorporate a community-based learning component into their courses, matching the needs of local community partners with the educational goals of faculty members and students' availability.

For more information about community-based learning please contact , Professor of Government, Director of the Ware Institute, Associate Dean of the College

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  • Human Rights - Human Wrongs
  • Students in Professor Susan Dicklitch's Human Rights-Human Wrongs community-based learning class work on actual asylum cases along with lawyers from PIRC (PA Immigration Resource Center) in York, PA. Students visit the asylum seekers, observe the legal proceedings and assist with writing legal briefs that may eventually result in freedom for asylum seekers.

  • stevens-house
  • In one CBL class, students were able to teach School District of Lancaster students about the archaeological artifacts found at the Thaddeus Stevens House (shown above). Students not only got to deal with historical items, but they also helped to increase the knowledge about Stevens among local students.