Community-based class gives meaning and opportunity

October 01, 2019

As our sociology and anthropology graduands ready themselves for convocation, it is fitting to reflect on some of the meaningful learning experiences that they had with us.

SA 498: Field Study in Sociology/Anthropology, taught by Dany Lacombe, was a class they will remember. In this class, each student volunteered with an organization that supported marginalized and underrepresented groups such as battered women, immigrants, older adults, homeless persons, racialized refugees and newcomer youth. Their responsibilities differed with each organization, but they all found a purpose for their duties, no matter how small. One student working with battered women said, "It didn't seem like I was doing anything at first but making coffee and cleaning. I then realized that those small things were really important to create order when working with people in crisis."

They carefully documented these experiences relating them to sociological and anthropological themes they have learned in their academic studies, such as stigma, trauma, racism and intercultural differences. Afterwards, the students presented their field notes and research to each other, reflecting on and sharing their experiences.

Not only were the students able to engage directly with and contribute to communities and gain experience, but this class also offered them the opportunity to expand their network and find employment opportunities.

After their placement, some of the organizations even hired the students, valuing their sociology/anthropology insights and approaches. In the final class, one graduating student already reflected on this class by fondly saying, "The most useful course in Sociology! I got a job!"