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Community Engagement

Experiential learning at Saint Louis University challenges you to expand your knowledge beyond the classroom by performing dedicated work off campus.

The goal is to build connections between what you do in your American studies courses and the practical and intellectual challenges that await outside of them. This provides applied experience and skills that connect in a sustained and meaningful way with SLU’s Jesuit mission.

Experiential learning allows you to:

  • Develop a framework for applied projects consistent with American studies concerns, themes and methods of inquiry.
  • Be supported in undertaking self-directed and self-organized work.
    Apply American studies theories and methods within practical work environments.
  • Develop research, critical analysis and writing skills.

Undergraduate Experiential Learning

All American studies undergraduate majors at SLU complete three credit hours of experiential learning through either an approved service learning course or internship. Undergraduate minors are not required to pursue experiential learning but are welcome to do so as an elective.

Service Learning

Service learning courses feature a substantial community-based project.

As part of a course on farming in American culture, our students worked with a local nonprofit devoted to providing fresh produce to underserved urban areas. They developed and implemented an oral history project that investigated inner-city residents' attitudes toward the new urban gardens in their neighborhoods.

In another class, students researched and interviewed the former parishioners of a small church near campus that a local art institution was turning into a public art space, with the goal of ensuring the revitalization project would include local voices and stories.

Internship

An internship is a three-credit course requiring that you work at a partner institution for a minimum of 50 hours per credit, or 10 hours per week. American Studies students have held internships at the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Missouri History Museum, the Circuit Court Records Project, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the International Institute, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the City Museum—just to name a few.

Graduate Experiential Learning

While neither M.A. nor Ph.D. students in American studies are required to pursue experiential learning, many elect to do so. Experiential learning is relevant to graduate students considering careers in higher education, as well as those seeking opportunities outside of it.

American studies doctoral students are encouraged to pursue the Certificate in University Teaching Skills at the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning.

Graduate students—particularly those considering careers the public humanities, museums, libraries, historic preservation, or other careers outside of academia—may also take an internship for formal course credit.

Internship Procedures and Forms

You should prepare for your internship by meeting with the American studies internship coordinator no later than October 15 for a spring semester project and no later than March 30 for a fall semester project.

Once you have identified the organization with which you would like to work, you must should obtain and complete any and all forms it requires.

You will then complete an internship application and agreement will clearly define the purposes, goals, and outcomes of your experience. This contract requires 10 hours per week at the internship site, the completion of projects determined by the internship supervisor, and the production of three quarterly reports and one final report.

Any student engaged in an internship for credit must be signed up for the relevant SLU course number (ASTD 4910 for B.A. students, 5910 for M.A. students, and 6910 for Ph.D. students) by the internship start date. The only exception will be if you are continuing internship work to clear a grade of Incomplete from a previous semester's internship course.

Internship Forms

Internship Application (Word Document)

Internship Syllabus (PDF)

Internship Evaluation (Word Document)