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Public and Community Service Studies

The Major

 A major in public and community service studies is offered, which leads to the bachelor of arts degree.

Examples of core courses

  • PSP 101 Introduction to Service in Democratic Communities: An examination of concepts of community and service and their status in the United States and the world today, including examination of alternative conceptions of community, and service and analysis of their meaning and value. Participation in a community service project required.

  • PSP 202 Foundations of Organizational Service: An introduction to the basic precepts of organizations, organizational behavior, and organizational theory that provide the context within which public and community service take place.

  • PSP 303 Community Organizing: Students learn to view social, economic, and political problems from an organizer’s perspective and to act on these problems using community organizing skills and practices.  Historical and contemporary organizing traditions and approaches are explored alongside a real-world “organizing project” of the student’s choosing.

  • Diversity in Community Service: This course will explore diversity in American society and its implications for people involved in community service. Dimensions of diversity to be studied include ethnicity and race, language, religion. gender, social class, sexual orientation, and issues affecting people with "disabilities." Students will study problems in cross cultural communication and the ways in which their life experiences and the social structures of service organizations might affect their community service. Students will examine case studies in community service for implications relevant to diversity issues.

Leadership Skills and Fieldwork Experience

  • PSP 320-321 Practicum in Public and Community Service: This course provides the practical skills necessary for assuming leadership in communities and small groups, all as they relate to providing service. Students will develop skills in values clarification, facilitating communication, group process, team building, and problem solving, as well as issues of management and coordination of services and personnel. A practicum experience is included in the course, where students will be assisting faculty in courses that will include a service learning component, including serving as facilitators in service sites, assisting in leading reflection and analysis activities and working with community leaders. Service experience and assistance in other courses with service learning components will be supervised and feedback will be provided to assist in development of management skills.

  • PSP 450 Internship in Community Service: Students choose an intesive public or community service internship experience. The internship must correspond with the student's track. 

The Capstone Experience

  • PSP 480-481 Capstone Seminar in Public and Community Service: A year long seminar for senior majors that synthesizes and deepens academic learning  with practical experiences. The seminar will typically focus in on some of the larger concepts foundational to the major and the Institute and will give students an opportunity to draw together the complex, interdisciplinary material they have studied, including in their specialized track, during the previous three years. The seminar will culminate with each student submitting a significant written research project or product, in consultation with faculty.


Understanding the varied academic and professional interests, concerns, and specialization that the major represents, students majoring in public and community service studies will choose a track consisting of three courses  from the College's course listings outside the Feinstein Institute for Public Service. It will be the student's responsibility, in conjunction with faculty advisors, to demonstrate the relationship of the track to the major.

Some examples include tracks in public administration, politics, the environment, women's studies, public policy, community health, etc.

The Minor

A minor in public and community service is also available. Students pursuing the public and community service minor may select the standard program or may choose a community health track. The minor in the Department of Public and Community Service Studies requires a total of six courses, 18 hours, distributed as follows:

1. PSP 101 Intro. to Service in Democratic Communities

2. PSP 202 Foundations of Organizational Service

3. PSP 303 Community Organizing Cultural Diversity/Cultural Boundaries in Community Service

4. PSP 480 Public Service Capstone

5. PSP Elective. Any course at or above the 300 level.

Community Health Track Minor

Students interested in public health - or in health professions or policy - may supplement their major with a minor in Public and Community Service Studies that concentrates in the area of community/public health. Requirements for this track within the major are as follows:

1. PSP 101 Intro. to Service in Democratic Communities

2. PSP 202 Foundations of Organizational Service

3. PSP 303 Community Organizing Cultural Diversity/Cultural Boundaries in Community Service

4. PHL 301 Ethics, Moral Leadership, and the Common Good

5. PHL 309 Biomedical Ethics

6. PSP 491 Independent Study: Community Health


For a full listing of course descriptions and degree requirements, please see the course catalog.


Bachelor of Arts


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