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September 5, 2008

Little Theater, Quad 346 (SJU)

Prof. Claire Haeg and Prof. Matt Lindstrom

The Value of Experiential Learning Communities: Are internships in a Community Worth More Than Internships Alone?

Drawing on the literature of experiential learning and learning communities, this Friday Forum presentation (September 5) analyzes the Washington D.C. Summer Study Program developed by the College of St Benedict and St. John’s University. In their presentation, Profs. Claire Haeg and Matt Lindstrom (Political Science) examine the extent to which there is added value to doing an internship within a learning community rather than on one’s own. Do students learn more? Are they more enthusiastic about public policy and politics? Do they have better career mentoring opportunities if their internship is contextualized within a learning community?

In addition to these questions, Haeg and Lindstrom examine what the students’ experiences mean for them in terms of their civic engagement, the integration of past and future course material, and how students use these experiences to examine their career goals, to develop their own career path, and to learn to live and work independently and responsibly in an urban setting. Interviews with students, site supervisors, and faculty, as well as student archival data from the 25 year old program demonstrate that while there are numerous tradeoffs and costs, internships embedded within a learning community create unique benefits not available to the more isolated individual internship model.