In this course, which includes experiential learning, students are placed into teams and engage with a social justice issue in the local community. These issues are different each time the course is taught but fall into categories such as education, health care, transportation, and sustainability. Throughout the semester, students learn about the how this issue impacts the Austin community and connect with leaders and organizations that work on solutions, often focusing on one specific organization per team. Each team spends the semester researching their issue, which includes understanding it at the local level and contextualizing it in national conversations, and with scholarly literature. Their work culminates in a research report that proposes an innovative solution. At the end of the semester, each group presents their work and proposals to leaders in the community.
The librarian for the course works with the faculty member and undergraduate TA to create the prompts. The research project is scaffolded throughout the semester. The first research-related assignments is a Research and Resource Gathering assignment asking each team to make a plan for conducting and organizing their research, and begin researching. The class then attends a session in the library. During the session, the librarian teaches to the roadblocks that surfaced when students did this assignment. During the rest of the session, teams conduct research and the librarian spends time with each team answering specific questions and helping them come up with a research strategy to meet their information needs. The librarian also creates and in-depth tailored research guide for each team. After the session, students complete a Culmination of Library Research Assignment that documents their continued research and provides feedback for the librarian for future iterations of the course.
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