Activity-Based Learning Courses

Aimed at bridging the gap between academic learning and service work, Activity-Based Learning (ABL) courses in Social Studies combine rigorous reading and writing in the social sciences with public engagement. Two of the courses draw on the resources of the Phillips Brooks House and are open to students who are concurrently involved in relevant Harvard-affiliated service programs. All three courses offer students the opportunity to connect social science history and theory with practical experience, to actively shape classroom learning through personal involvement with service work, and to reflect on ways that the social sciences can contribute to addressing contemporary community needs and social problems.  

Enrollment will be limited to 12 students in each ABL course. Courses are open to students in all concentrations as long as students meet the public service requirements (see individual course descriptions below for more details). If over-enrolled, courses will be lotteried with priority given to Social Studies concentrators.  


2016-17 Courses

Ariane Liazos
Half course (fall term). Monday 1-3.
Explores efforts to realize the civic purpose of American universities, particularly in terms of attempts to engage local communities through educational outreach programs. Examines major periods of experimentation and innovation in the 20th and 21st centuries, from the settlement house movement of the early 1900s to recent efforts to revive the public mission of universities through service-learning and other forms of civic education. This course is an activity-based learning course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in education-related service programs affiliated with Harvard. Class discussions and assignments will make active links with students' service work. Open to students in all concentrations.


Social Studies 68ct. The Chinese Immigrant Experience in America
Nicole Newendorp
Half course (spring term). Thursday 1:00-3:00.
Uses the history of Boston’s Chinatown as a case study to examine the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. from the 1880s until the present. Employs historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to examine major themes related to the social and economic development of U.S. Chinatowns and Chinese immigrant communities throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. This course is an activity-based learning course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in a Harvard-affiliated service program in or around Boston’s Chinatown. Class discussions and assignments will make active links with students’ service work. Open to students in all concentrations.