About ABCS

ABCS:

  • Integrates service with research, teaching, and learning
  • Works to improve the quality of life and learning in the community and the quality of learning and scholarship in the university through collaborative problem-solving, K-16+
  • Fosters structural community improvement (e.g., effective public schools, neighborhood economic development)
  • Emphasizes student and faculty reflection on the service experience
  • Helps students become active, creative, contributing citizens of a democratic society.

Over 200 ABCS courses have been developed at Penn in a wide range of disciplines. In the 2017-2018 academic year, 74 ABCS courses were offered across 9 schools, enrolling approximately 1700 undergraduate and graduate students.

For students currently enrolled in an ABCS course, click here for more information on transportation and clearances.

For faculty interested in teaching an ABCS course, click here for more information on available resources.

For graduate students interested in ABCS and related activities, learn more Provost's Graduate Academic Engagement Fellows at the Netter Center and Penn Graduate Community-Engaged Research Mentorship summer program.

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SPRING 2023 ACADEMICALLY BASED COMMUNITY SERVICE (ABCS) COURSES:

ACCT 2110/BEPP 2110: TAX POLICY AND PRACTICE IN THE PHILADELPHIA COMMUNITY
Instructor: Edward Scott

The academic component of the course will focus on several areas: (1) The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. Students will read this book throughout the semester to support their understanding of the community that they will be serving. (2) Statutory tax system. (3) Social policy debate. (4) Working with people. Volunteering with VITA requires students to work with people from a low-income community on the sensitive issue of personal finances. Students will learn to discuss sensitive financial issues with lower-income adults (including many seniors) through readings and in-class discussions, and by reflecting on their real-life experiences in the local community. This skill is important in a variety of roles such as healthcare (physicians and nurses), business (e.g., the HR function), and education. The community service part of the course is volunteering with VITA, which is the IRS’s “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance” program. Following training, students will perform tax services for the West Philadelphia community during the 2023 tax season. The course will meet once a week in three-hour sessions for 8-9 weeks during the Spring semester. Students are expected to be in the field performing service throughout a significant portion of the semester. As described on the IRS website, the VITA program has operated for over 50 years. Volunteers offer free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns, including: People who generally make $58,000 or less; Persons with disabilities; and Limited English-speaking taxpayers.

AFRC 1780/HIST 0811/URBS 1780: FACULTY-STUDENT COLLABORATIVE ACTION SEMINAR IN UNIVERSITY-COMMUNITY RELATIONS
Instructor: Ira Harkavy, Theresa Simmonds

This seminar helps students develop their capacity to solve strategic, real-world problems by working collaboratively in the classroom, on campus, and in the West Philadelphia community. Students develop proposals that demonstrate how a Penn undergraduate education might better empower students to produce, not simply "consume," societally-useful knowledge, as well as to function as caring, contributing citizens of a democratic society. Their proposals help contribute to the improvement of education on campus and in the community, as well as to the improvement of university-community relations. Additionally, students provide college access support at Paul Robeson High School for one hour each week.

ANTH 3376: ETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACHES TO URBAN ATHLETICS AND HUMAN MOVEMENT
Instructor: Gretchen Suess

Rooted in the rubric of public interest social science, the course focuses on bridging theory and practice motivated by a commitment to social justice through original ethnographic research. In particular, this course will focus on kinesiology and the anthropology of sports and well-being through intense analysis of the Young Quakers Community Athletics (YQCA) program, a collaboration between the Netter Center for Community Partnerships and Penn Athletics. In guest lecturers from multiple disciplines will help to round out the course. The core learning objective is to bring a broad range of specialized expertise to foster a holistic examination of a complex institutional partnership intended to promote positive social transformation and improved human health and well-being.

ANTH 5467/EDUC 5467: COMMUNITY YOUTH FILMMAKING
Instructor: Amitanshu Das

This course focuses on how the filmmaking medium and process can provide a means for engaging youth in ethnographically grounded civic action projects where they learn about, reflect on, and communicate to others about their issues in their schools and communities. Students receive advanced training in film and video for social change. A project-based service-learning course, students collaborate with Philadelphia high school students and community groups to make films and videos that encourage creative self-expression and represent issues important to youth, schools, and local communities. Stories and themes on emotional well-being, safety, health, environmental issues, racism and social justice are particularly encouraged. A central thread throughout is to assess and reflect upon the strengths (and weaknesses) of contemporary film (digital, online) in fostering debate, discussion and catalyzing community action and social change. The filmmaking medium and process itself is explored as a means to engage and interact with communities. This course provides a grounding in theories, concepts, methods and practices of community engagement derived from Community Participatory Video, Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and Ethnographic methods. For the very first time, Penn students will be trained to operate a state-of-the-art TV studio at PSTV (Philadelphia Schools TV). At the end of the semester approved films will be screened with an accompanying panel discussion at an event at the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). These films will also be broadcast on Comcast Philadelphia's PSTV Channel 52 and webcast via the district's website and YouTube channel. This is an ABCS course, and students will produce short ethnographic films with students in Philadelphia high schools as part of a partnership project with the School District of Philadelphia. EDUC 5466 Ethnographic Filmmaking (or equivalent) is a pre-requisite or permission of instructor.

ASLD 1032: DEAF CULTURE
Instructor: Jami Fisher

This Academically Based Community Service course is intended to be the final course in the ASL/Deaf Studies course sequence. Students will work with a Deaf community partner to learn about the organization and work on a mutually agreed on research project. Students will also have course meetings on a weekly basis with discussions and activities centering on reflection of community experiences through linguistic as well as cultural lenses. Ongoing reflections and discussions—formal and informal—on Deaf cultural/theoretical topics drawing from readings as well as community experiences will be integral to the course experience.

COLL 0135: THE ART OF SPEAKING

This course is designed to equip students with the major tenets of rhetorical studies and peer education necessary to work as a CWiC speaking advisor. The course is a practicum that aims to develop students' abilities as speakers, as critical listeners and as advisors able to help others develop those abilities. In addition to creating and presenting individual presentations, students present workshops and practice advising. During this ABCS course, students will practice their advising skills by coaching and mentoring students at a public school in Philadelphia.

EDUC2002: URBAN EDUCATION
Instructor: Andrew Schiera, Christopher Pupik Dean

This seminar focuses on two main questions: 1) How have US schools and urban ones in particular continued to reproduce inequalities rather than ameliorating them? 2) In the informational age, how do the systems affecting education need to change to create more successful and equitable outcomes? The course is designed to bridge the divide between theory and practice. Each class session looks at issues of equity in relation to an area of practice (e.g. lesson design, curriculum planning, fostering positive student identities, classroom management, school funding, policy planning...), while bringing theoretical frames to bear from the fields of education, sociology, anthropology and psychology.

EDUC 2100: URBAN FINANCIAL LITERACY: PEDAGOGY AND PRACTICE

Instructor: Brian Peterson,  Brandon Copeland

EDUC 3123/URBS3230: TUTORING SCHOOL: THEORY AND PRACTICE
Instructor: Aliya Bradley

This course represents an opportunity for students to participate in academically-based community service involving tutoring in a West Phila. public school. This course will serve a need for those students who are already tutoring through the West Phila.Tutoring Project or other campus tutoring. It will also be available to individuals who are interested in tutoring for the first time.

EDUC 5437: INTERFAITH DIALOGUE IN ACTION
Instructor: Stephen Kocher

This ABCS course explores religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue and action on college campuses. It brings together students with diverse faith commitments (including atheism) to engage with and learn from one another in academic study, dialogue, and service.

EDUC 5700: EXPANDING CIVIC & POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH IN WEST PHILADELPHIA
Instructor: Rand Quinn

Preference given to EDPL students before December 1. Open as elective after that date. This Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) class is designed for Penn students who are interested in contributing to youth civic engagement efforts in Philadelphia. Over the course of the semester, our class will (a) research and develop project-based workshops on environmental justice, (b) run these workshops in local public high school classrooms, and (c) study and report on the impact of our efforts. Our ultimate goal is to identify strategies that encourage young people to become more informed and active citizens.

ENVS 1665: AIR POLLUTION: SOURCES & EFFECTS IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS
Instructor: Maria-Antonia Andrews

This is an ABCS course designed to provide the student with an understanding of air pollution at the local, regional and global levels. The nature, composition, and properties of air pollutants in the atmosphere will also be studied. The course will focus on Philadelphia's air quality and how air pollutants have an adverse effect on the health of the residents. The recent designation by IARC of Air Pollution as a known carcinogen will be explored. How the community is exposed to air pollutants with consideration of vulnerable populations will be considered. Through a partnership with Philadelphia Air Management Service (AMS) agency the science of air monitoring and trends over time will be explored. Philadelphia's current non-attainment status for PM2.5. and ozone will be studied. Philadelphia's current initiatives to improvethe air quality of the city will be discussed. Students will learn to measure PM2.5 in outdoor and indoor settings and develop community-based outreach tools to effectively inform the community of Philadelphia regarding air pollution. The outreach tools developed by students may be presentations, written materials, apps, websites or other strategies for enhancing environmental health literacy of the community. A project based approach will be used to include student monitoring of area schools, school bus routes, and the community at large. The data collected will be presented to students in the partner elementary school in West Philadelphia . Upon completion of this course, students should expect to have attained a broad understanding of and familiarity with the sources, fate, and the environmental impacts and health effects of air pollutants.

FREN 2180: FROM WEST AFRICA TO WEST PHILADELPIHA: CREATING COMMUNITY IN THE FRANCOPHONE DIASPORA
Instructor: Elizabeth Colllins

This course explores the immigrant experience with a focus on migration from Francophone West Africa to this country, particularly the impact it has on children and young people. Through a close partnership with young Francophone immigrants at the Lea School, we will focus on the challenges they face adapting to a new cultural and linguistic environment. We will review the Francophone context in order to understand the place of the French language in Africa; look at the immigrant and refugee experience through a variety of texts in French; examine the issues of mono-, bi- and multilingualism both on an individual and a societal basis; look at the competing meanings the French language holds for Black Americans; and study the role of foreign languages in American schools. Students will participate in the weekly Francophone Community Partnership, an after-school program with K - 8 children at the Lea School which seeks to enhance the children’s self-esteem and pride in their linguistic and cultural heritage.

LGST 2300: SOCIAL IMPACT AND RESPONSIBILITY: FOUNDATIONS
Instructor: Djordjija Petkoski

What role can business play in helping to meet global societal needs, whether it involves the environment, improving health, expanding education or eradicating poverty? Is there any responsibility on the part of business to help meet those needs? What are models of successful business engagement in this area? How should success be measured? Are there limits to what businesses can and should do, and what institutional changes will enable businesses and entrepreneurs to better succeed? This survey course provides students the opportunity to engage in the critical analysis of these and other questions that lie at the foundation of social impact and responsibility as an area of study. The course involves case studies, conceptual issues, and talks by practitioners. The course is designed to help students develop a framework to address the question: How should business enterprises and business thinking be engaged to improve society in areas not always associated with business? The course is required for the secondary concentration in Social Impact and Responsibility

MATH 1234: COMMUNITY ALGEBRA INITATIVE

MGMT 3530: WHARTON FIELD CHALLENGE: FINANCIAL LITERACY COMMUNITY PROJECT
Instructor: Keith Weigelt 

Do you want to make a real difference in the lives of a student? Do you want to set kids on a path to becoming financially literate? Do you want to learn leadership skills in the classroom? Here at the Financial Literacy Community Project (FLCP) we are able to create an experience that achieves all three. We partner with various public schools around the West Philadelphia area and teach concepts integral to financial literacy. We teach a wide range of grades from middle school to high school, and work with students to help them learn how to be financially responsible. In addition to teaching in neighboring high schools, we also have group class meetings run by Professor Keith Weigelt on Mondays from 7:00 PM-8:30 PM. We learn about the disparity of wealth and how to best address it while also learning teaching techniques, classroom strategies, and overall basic financial literacy. A basic understanding of personal financial literacy is required.

MUSC 0180B/ URBS 0180B: MUSIC IN URBAN SPACES
Instructor: Molly Mcglone

Music in Urban Spaces is a year-long experience that explores the ways in which individuals use music in their everyday lives and how music is used to construct larger social and economic networks that we call culture. We will read the work of musicologists, cultural theorists, urban geographers, sociologists and educators who work to define urban space and the role of music and sound in urban environments, including through music education. While the readings make up our study of the sociology of urban space and the way we use music in everyday life to inform our conversations and the questions we ask, it is within the context of our personal experiences working with music programs in public neighborhood schools serving economically disadvantaged students, that we will begin to formulate our theories of the contested musical micro-cultures of West Philadelphia. This course is over two-semesters where students register for .5 cus each term (for a total of 1 cu over the entire academic year) and is tied to the Music and Social Change Residential Program in Fisher Hassenfeld College House which will sponsor field trips around the city and a final concert for youth to perform here at Penn, if possible. Students are expected to volunteer in music and drama programs in Philadelphia neighborhood public schools throughout the course experience.

MUSC 2500: INTRODUCTION TO ETHNOMUSICOLOGY
Instructor: Carol Muller

This course introduces students to the field of ethnomusicology through a series of case studies that explore a range of traditional, popular, and art musics from around the world. The course takes as a point of departure several works of musical ethnography, musical fiction, and musical autobiography and, through in-depth reading of these texts, close listening to assigned sound recordings, and in- class case studies, generates a context within which to think and write about music. Prerequisite: Fulfills the requirements of the Music major.

NURS 3130/5130: OBESITY AND SOCIETY

This course will examine obesity from scientific, cultural, psychological, and economic perspectives. The complex matrix of factors that contribute to obesity and established treatment options will be explored.

NURS 3570/5730: INNOVATION IN HEALTH: FOUNDATIONS OF DESIGN THINKING
Instructor: Marion Leary

Innovation, defined as a hypothesis-driven, testable, and disciplined strategy, is important to improve health & healthcare. Employing new ways of thinking, such as with design thinking, will help open up possibilities of ways to improve health & the process of healthcare. Incorporating current & emerging social & digital technologies such as mobile apps, wearables, remote sensing, and 3D printing, affords new opportunities for innovation. This course provides foundational content & a disciplined approach to innovation as it applies to health & healthcare. A flipped classroom approach has the in-class component focusing on group learning through design thinking activities. The course is open to undergraduate nursing students as a case study & upper-level undergraduates and graduate students from across the Penn campus. The course provides a theoretical foundation in design thinking & may provide an overview of innovation technology & digital strategies as well as social & process change strategies. To enhance the didactic component, students will actively participate in a design case study. Students will be matched by interest and skill level with teams & will work with community-based organizations, healthcare providers and/or innovation partners. Student teams will meet their partners to identify & refine a health or healthcare problem to tackle. Students will work throughout the semester to create an innovative solution that will be pitched to their community-based organization, healthcare provider, and/or innovation partner at the end of the semester.

NURS 7350: PEDIATRIC ACUTE CARE NP: PROFESSIONAL ROLE & INTERMEDIATE CLINICAL PRACTICE
Instructor: Jessica Strohm Farber

This course focuses on the implementation of the professional role of the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC). Particular emphasis is placed on the role components of the nurse practitioner in pediatric acute care. Applications of nursing, biological and behavioral science are emphasized in the advanced clinical assessment, clinical decision making and management skills needed to care for complex, unstable acutely and chronically ill children and their families. The role of the advanced practice nurse in promoting optimal child/family outcomes is emphasized.

NRSC 1160: ABCS OF EVERYDAY NEUROSCIENCE
Instructor: Loretta Flanagan-Cato

This course is an opportunity for undergraduates to share their interest and enthusiasm for neuroscience with students in grades 9-12 attending urban public schools in West Philadelphia. The course will allow Penn students to develop their science communication and teaching skills. Students will prepare neuroscience demonstrations, hands-on activities, and assessment tools. In parallel, the course aims to engage local high school students, increasing their interest and knowledge in science, and ultimately promoting lifelong science literacy.

SOCI 2610/LALS 2610: LATINOS IN THE UNITED STATES
Instructor: Emilio Parrado

This course presents a broad overview of the Latino population in the United States that focuses on the economic and sociological aspects of Latino immigration and assimilation. Topics to be covered include: construction of Latino identity, the history of U.S. Latino immigration, Latino family patterns and household structure, Latino educational attainment. Latino incorporation into the U.S. labor force, earnings and economic well-being among Latino-origin groups, assimilation and the second generation. The course will stress the importance of understanding Latinos within the overall system of race and ethnic relations in the U.S., as well as in comparison with previous immigration flows, particularly from Europe. We will pay particular attention to the economic impact of Latino immigration on both the U.S. receiving and Latin American sending communities, and the efficacy and future possibilities of U.S. immigration policy. Within all of these diverse topics, we will stress the heterogeneity of the Latino population according to national origin groups (i.e. Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other Latinos), as well as generational differences between immigrants and the native born.

SWRK 7520: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURIAL APPROACH TO COMMUNITY REINTEGRATION
Instructor: Thomas Duffin

In this course, students work closely with the instructor and partner agencies to experiment a social entrepreneurial approach to community reintegration for formerly incarcerated people. This course provides a unique and flexible opportunity for students to work together on an ongoing SP2-driven initiative called Penn Restorative Entrepreneurship Program (PREP). Founded by Prof. Charlotte Ren and currently led by Prof. Chao Guo, PREP identifies a small group of formerly incarcerated individuals based on survey and interview results and selects students from various schools at Penn to offer ten-week intensive training on starting and running a small business. After the curriculum training, PREP continues to provide a support system to help them turn business ideas into reality. Through PREP, we hope to develop and demonstrate a sustainable and replicable model to effectively transition formerly incarcerated individuals back to the community.

URBS 2002: URBAN EDUCATION
Instructor: Michael Clapper

This seminar focuses on two main questions: 1) How have US schools and urban ones in particular continued to reproduce inequalities rather than ameliorating them? 2) In the informational age, how do the systems affecting education need to change to create more successful and equitable outcomes? The course is designed to bridge the divide between theory and practice. Each class session looks at issues of equity in relation to an area of practice (e.g. lesson design, curriculum planning, fostering positive student identities, classroom management, school funding, policy planning...), while bringing theoretical frames to bear from the fields of education, sociology, anthropology and psychology.