Theory to Community Engagement

Theory to Community Engagement in Childhood and Society


Thursdays, 9:30am – 12pm (Dates: 1/11, 1/18, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/15, and 2/22)

UNXD-204: Theory to Community Engagement in Childhood and Society

  • Faculty: Rachel Barr (instructor of record), Matthew Biel, and Rachel Brady

Course description:

This is the required gateway module (UNXD-204) that introduces students to the Challenges in Childhood and Society thematic pathway. Our 1.5 credit module runs for the first half of the semester and focuses on theory and research related to children’s physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral health and the social contexts in which they live, learn, and play and provides an opportunity for integrated community-based learning. The classroom portion is organized around key influences that challenge or protect children during their journey to adulthood: genetic, prenatal and environmental factors; family, peers, and significant adults; educational and health systems; mass media and community exposure; and political, socio-cultural, and economic forces. The module introduces students to these complex and interacting influences on children’s growth and development, their biopsychosocial origins, and brings students out into the Washington, DC community to youth- and family-oriented social service agencies to experience these factors first hand. Course faculty travel with students to these placements. While on-site, students and faculty engage in direct observation and field study of children in context and under the guidance of expert professionals. Community-based learning is an innovative and immersive educational experience. The course seeks to foster students’ understanding of children’s unique health and psychological needs, and emerging social relationship structures in an up-close manner with ample opportunity for learning and reflection. This course runs for 2 class periods on Thursday mornings. In combination with another 1.5 credit module from our thematic pathway, the 3 credits can be bundled into a whole course. See also UNXD-205 for more information on this semester’s thematic pathway module.