Apr 20, 2024  
[PRELIMINARY] Course Catalog 2024-2025 
[PRELIMINARY] Course Catalog 2024-2025

Pedagogical Attributes

Community-Based Learning (CBL)

arrow See a list of courses with the CBL attribute.  

Community-Based Learning (CBL) at Oberlin is a pedagogy in which faculty collaborate with community partners to identify community needs and goals and integrate these, through community-based research or class projects, into the academic goals of a course for the mutual benefit of the partner and student learning. The concept of “community” is defined broadly to include areas immediately neighboring the College and Conservatory (Oberlin, Lorain and Cuyahoga Counties, and greater Northeast Ohio) but also extends to national and international partnerships with non-profit organizations, NGOs, and government and public sector agencies.

Academic community-based learning may take the form of direct service projects or be theoretical or methodological, such as a foundational or introductory course that focuses on the ethics or methods of effective community engagement.

The Committee on Community-Based Learning reviews and approves all courses carrying the CBL attribute.

Criteria for CBL Courses

The CBL course attribute indicates that the course has a community-engaged component based on the following criteria: 

  • The instructor and the community partner/s identify a community need and agree upon mutually beneficial goals that are appropriate for student engagement and learning.
  • The instructor develops course learning goals that provide students with mentorship and skills necessary to succeed in a community-based learning experience.
  • The course structure is based on sound CBL pedagogical practices that include meaningful, reciprocal, and direct student interactions with the community partner/s, and address a community need or goal.
  • The instructor develops assessment mechanisms that include written or verbal student reflection, as well as direct feedback from the community partner/s (and served population when appropriate).

Sustainability (SUST)

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Oberlin College and Conservatory is committed to environmental stewardship through design and implementation of institutional policies, through management of energy flows and material cycles, and through research and teaching. Our definition of sustainability is derived from the widely-cited definition from the 1983 Brundtland Commission of the U.N. - “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Oberlin recognizes that sustainable systems (e.g., institutions and communities) must be environmentally sound, socially just, and economically viable. A consideration of the intersection between these dimensions is fundamental to both assessment and promotion of sustainability.

The Committee on Environmental Sustainability reviews and approves all courses carrying the SUST attribute.

Criteria for SUST Courses

Academic courses that concentrate on sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens are termed sustainability-focused courses and are assigned the SUST attribute. Sustainability-related courses include a course component or module or concentrate on a key principle or issue of sustainability.

These course definitions come from STARS, a self-reporting system developed by the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Oberlin is a charter member of AASHE and uses STARS to track progress toward achieving its sustainability goals, relative to other colleges and universities.

Undergraduate Research Intensive (URI)

arrow See a list of courses with the URI attribute.  

Undergraduate research is a mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge. Undergraduate research experiences offer an invaluable opportunity for students to deepen their academic knowledge and explore areas of study not covered in traditional courses. Undergraduate research also promotes the development of academic skills such as critical thinking, synthesizing information, and formal argumentation as well as broader professional skills including time management, project planning, and communication. URI courses offer students the opportunity to engage in research while receiving course credit and are often incorporated into the formal curriculum of their major. The research process varies wildly across disciplines. Thus, students should expect URI courses to provide exposure to how knowledge is produced in their discipline and experience with the methodology that produces this knowledge.

The General Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Research reviews and approves all courses carrying the URI attribute.

Criteria for URI Courses

The URI course attribute indicates that the course has a major research component that meets the following criteria:

  • Students must pursue sustained independent or semi-independent research.
  • The research process modeled in the course and related assignment(s) should be informed by and emulate specific scholarly disciplines or discursive communities.
  • Student research in the course should seek to add disciplinary knowledge. Please note that students are not expected to reach the level of faculty scholarship or successfully contribute knowledge to their discipline.
  • Student research should include a culminating product consistent with the discipline such as a final paper, presentation, poster, and/or performance.