All Sharpe Scholars are enrolled in a course that teaches them how to work in a community and guides them in the process of engaged learning. During the fall semester each student chooses a Sharpe Seminar – a small discussion-based class that focuses on how one academic subject can be used to understand and address social problems. These seminars foster close working relationships between students and professors.
During the first semester, Sharpe Scholars enroll in two service-learning courses:
All students enroll in a special one-credit short course: College and Community, which meets once a week on Wednesday evenings. This course brings together Scholars, the upperclassmen who serve as their mentors (Sharpe fellows) and faculty to engage in conversations about concepts that are central to the program: community, democracy, social responsibility, justice and pluralism. Through films, case studies, small group activities and guest speakers, students become acquainted with Williamsburg and develop an understanding of the process of community building, leadership and social change. These larger group discussions are alternated with small group meetings with fellows to discuss and plan service projects.
In addition, Sharpe students are given the opportunity to select one of six courses taught by some of the College's top faculty. These include freshman seminars in Government, Hispanic Studies, Education and Interdisciplinary Studies as well as introductory courses in Economics and Environmental Science and Policy. Sharpe Scholars rank their interest in each of these courses, which will then become the basis for their year-long service-learning projects.
Students are again enrolled in the one-credit College and Community course, and continue to meet on a regular basis in small groups with members of the faculty and their mentors. However, the second half of this year-long course is tailored specifically to the project and the community-wide concerns that are the focus of each individual group. Both the assigned fellow and the faculty professor lead this weekly meeting.
A few examples...
Scholars in an environmental science and policy course may work on a project to restore and protect local watersheds. Scholars in a freshman seminar that focuses on literacy and social change may develop a new family literacy program and volunteer at an adult literacy program. Scholars who enroll in a microeconomics course may volunteer and conduct community-based research on behalf of local agencies that provide services such as food and housing to those who are hungry or in need of shelter. View a list of current projects.