The primary goal of the Sharpe Program is to connect academic coursework with community experience. Sharpe students get to take courses specifically designed to make this connection.
During the fall of their freshman year, Sharpe students sign up for 2 separate courses:
- A one-credit short course, College and Community, which usually meets once a week. This course brings together Scholars, the upperclassmen who serve as their mentors, and faculty. The purpose of this course is to engage in conversations about concepts that are central to the program. Topics discussed include 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, research, and social change.
- Sharpe Scholars also register for one of the Sharpe Seminars. These courses taught by some of the College's top faculty. Every year there are four to five seminars whose topics vary. This seminar also fulfills the Scholars' COLL 150 requirement.
In the spring, Scholars are again enrolled in College and Community. They continue to meet faculty and their mentors, but the focus of the spring course is to develop a community-based research project. In most cases, they will take work done as part of the Seminars and move it into the real world.
A few examples...
- Environmental science and policy seminar students may work on a project to restore and protect local watersheds.
- Scholars in a seminar that focuses on literacy may pilot on-line programs for extending the reach of adult literacy training.
- Microeconomics seminar students may conduct community-based research on behalf of local agencies.