Archive Materials



Founding Years




Gracious Living

Broader Diversity

Forward Looking





Student Life

Historical Contexts

Wider World


Community Based Learning
Formalizing An Academic Practice

Informal beginnings: In 1915, initiated by Amy Hewes, a professor of the department of economics at Mount Holyoke, the students in her class began utilizing the greater Mount Holyoke community to study a number of social issues that the members of the local community faced. Their efforts and work was the beginning of a significant academic and social relationship between Mount Holyoke College and the surrounding communities.

The listing of the papers produced by the students in Professor Hewes class runs from 1915-1956. Allthough there appears to be a gap in academic community based learning classes from this point until the formal beginnigs of the Community Based Learning Curriculum at Mount Holyoke College in 1993, the activity and interest in social concerns and action continued to have a strong presence on the campus and within the greater Mount Holyoke College Community. We find evidence of this in the continued efforts made by the students who involved themselves within the local communities--specifically addressing the social issues and concerns of the day.

Formal beginnings: In 1993, community-based learning classes began at Mount Holyoke as a pilot program through a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. The program has been a tremendous success in that it has given students the opportunity to participate in academic activities out of the classroom and obtain hands on experience--applying principles to practice.

What is Community Based Learning: By definition, community-based learning is "an approach to learning -- a pedagogy that brings together students, faculty, and community organizations to examine questions of significant public interest. CBL prepares students to meet the challenge set forth in the college's Mission Statement of "fostening the aIliance of liberal arts education with purposeful engagement with the world" (Citated from MHC Center for Leadership and Public Interest Advocacy). Students involved with community-based learning classes not only have the opportunity to learn from their experiences, but they also have the ability to use their knowledge to formulate solutions to a wide range of issues.

"Community-based learning is not mere observation. Rather it is analysis, engaged reflection, and action. Students not only study community issues, but also work with local organizations to grapple with problems and offer solutions." (34)

(MHC Center for Leadership & Public Interest Advocacy)


This page was created by Anjanette Kelso-Watson '04 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 -