Student enthusiasm for experiential learning is at an all-time high, and campaign support has ensured a comprehensive approach to opportunities both in the classroom and in the community.
“Experiential learning is critical to personal development,” says Paula Consolini, who oversees the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA). “Study after study shows that when you’re personally, deeply connected to what you’re learning, it sticks.”
CLiA was created under then-President Falk to “cultivate experiential learning opportunities in service of our teaching goals, students’ civic aspirations and the needs of the wider community,” Consolini says. And enthusiasm has only intensified under President Maud S. Mandel. Recognizing how well it fits with a liberal arts education, faculty members have folded experiential learning into 132 courses. Campaign donors to CLiA have secured the future of perennial favorites, such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and BioEYES (a third-grade zebrafish curriculum developed and taught by Williams students), as well as new offerings such as Renewable Energy and the Sustainable Campus.
More than 1,200 students took part in experiential learning and community service in 2018-19, educating local communities about the refugee crisis, repurposing dining hall food for local pantries and advocating against racism in the prison system, among many other efforts.
And, thanks to gifts from the Board of Trustees and others, Consolini now serves as the Adam Falk Director of the Center for Learning in Action, boosting the center’s capacity for accommodating the ever-growing interest in learning by doing.