Community Engagement Courses

The Concept of Community Engagement

All Middlebury School in Japan students participate in the Community Engagement course, and complete a 24 hours of community engagement activities with a local organization during their first semester (Fall/Spring). The objective is to become a member of a “community of practice” by developing knowledge and skills to move easily and effectively in the culture and society you are studying in, by means of the language and cultural awareness.

Through the course of the semester, students identify one thing they can do for the benefit of the community, and deliver a service or product by the first day of final exams. Those who are in the one-year program will proceed to do a long-term community engagement project during the Winter/Spring trimesters.

Our Educational Philosophy: Communities of Practice

A community of practice refers to “a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger-Treyner&Wenger-Treyner 2015). A community of practice requires three essential contents: 1. the domain, 2. the community, and 3. the practice. We encourage students to consider these three factors into consideration when they choose a community engagement site.

The domain: School in Japan students will identify the domain that they are interested in, such as community revitalization, education, local business, etc., and find a local organization that has a shared interest in the domain.

The community: Ideally, students should find a local organization with multiple people who share the same interest in the domain, rather than an individual person. The idea is that the students and community members learn from each other through interaction on a regular basis. Note that some community engagement partners are small scale, so it is possible that students might be working with only one or two members during most of the community engagement activity period. Even if this is the case, it is highly likely that they have opportunities to expand their connections to several other people who have similar interests, through the primary member(s) of the community engagement site.

The practice: The members of the community do not just meet and talk about their interests, but accomplish a shared goal within the domain. For example, volunteer members of an after school program might have regular meetings and plan events in order to provide local elementary school students with opportunities to interact with other kids and university students. We strongly recommend School in Japan students make a contribution to the community by utilizing their expertise. 

Getting Started

For specific information on the courses offered and volunteer requirements, please refer to the course pages below.

Our Curriculum