The Center for Learning in Action strives to cultivate and sustain experiential learning opportunities, curricular and non-curricular, in service of the teaching goals of our faculty, the civic aspirations of our students and the needs of the wider community.
Experiential learning at Williams fits with the College’s broad philosophy of enhancing student capacity to improve society. The Center connects students to practical learning opportunities in accordance with the College’s core mission of student civic development. The educational effects of community engagement work can be powerful, in that they add real-life complications to classroom discussions and develop the leadership and citizenship skills essential to a Williams education. See the College’s Civic Engagement Report for more information on the full range of activities associated with this challenge.
Experiential courses and extracurricular projects provide students with guided opportunities to encounter firsthand the issues that they read about, requiring them to apply academic learning to nonacademic settings and challenging them to use their experiences in those settings to think more critically and deeply about what they are studying.
Experiential coursework at Williams ranges from fully integrated off-campus programs such as Williams at Mystic to courses involving small field research projects. The amount and nature of the experiential component(s) used varies according to the instructor’s judgment.
Extracurricular experiential opportunities at Williams range from local education outreach programs through which students can tutor or teach, to student-initiated alternative spring break trips in which students create and run group service projects off-campus.
We encourage students to link their community engagement to their academic learning through both curricular and extracurricular programming. See the visual summary for information on specific opportunities.