Community-Engaged Learning

Sociology and CEL Always Have to be Connected

This is the final installment in the series following Aspen in SOCI 439. We have spent time getting to know about this Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) course and the major parts relationships and reflection play in CEL. In this final segment, we will discuss Aspen’s overall experience and the advice she has for students interested in CEL.

CEL is not a phrase many people are familiar with and it can be difficult to describe because it shifts and moulds to different situations, and, as Aspen says, “looks so different for everyone.” As Aspen reflected, CEL takes different forms depending on one’s discipline and which community partner they engage with (which makes it exciting to engage in). However, Aspen’s overall experience reflects the general takeaways many participants have. This experience taught her about “what community really means” and that she wants to advocate for more courses to employ CEL frameworks.

Going into a CEL-based course can be intimidating and seem to have heavier workloads, which Aspen agreed with, saying SOCI 439 required more investment than previous courses. However, SOCI 439 also had “way more support” from the professor and peers, which created “such a strong community in the class.” To begin each class, they would often have “a full 30 minutes to debrief and see how everyone’s doing and [the instructor] asked if we needed anything from our professor.” One of the main highlights for Aspen was “building so many connections in the class,” which helped her reflect on her development in building relationships with peers.

A continuous theme throughout this series was Aspen’s rocky experience with her community partner, sharing that a lowlight of her experience was the “gaps in communication with the partner.” Something she hopes to see grow over time is communication strategies between community partners, students, and instructors – communication challenges are a reality for some partnerships. However, Aspen “still learned so much even though the situation wasn’t ideal” and said that while it was difficult, it also was a great learning experience. Aspen found that the overall experience in this course was enriching to her education and provided her with tools that she “can definitely apply to future situations.” Particularly, Aspen reflected on how “it really did help [her] learn how to apply sociology outside of the classroom.” Overall, she stated, “It is by far the most meaningful experience that I’ve had and most fulfilling course I’ve ever taken in university.”

Because of her experience in SOCI 439, Aspen’s plans for the future began to shift. Aspen explained that it has motivated her to re-connect with a past mentor to learn more about how she can get more involved in her home community. Aspen came away from her sociology CEL experience observing that she cannot participate in sociology without community and vice-versa, stating “I think they’re both going to be in my future somehow.”

Get involved in a CEL-based course related to your degree!

Learn more about Community-Engaged Learning at UVic or contact the CEL Office.

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