This file was prepared for electronic distribution by the inforM staff. Questions or comments should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. CHAPTER 2: Multiple Models SERVICE LEARNING AND THE WOMEN'S STUDIES CURRICULUM Carolyn M. Shrewsbury Inclusion of service learning activities in the women's studies curriculum benefits students, the women's studies program, the university and the community. Comprehensive integration of service learning concepts and practice, throughout the Women's Studies curriculum, enhances those benefits, and may well be one key to the growth and survival of strong women's studies programs in the 1980's. Many of the attitudes and activities necessary for such an integrated curriculum already exist in women's studies programs, but need to be made explicit in their relationship to service learning as a means and philosophy of feminist education. The importance of service learning activities in the overall program is demonstrated by reference to the criteria used to assess curricular offerings: scope of the field covered; inclusion of different ideological perspectives; adequacy of academic standards; relevance to career preparation; balance between skills and substantive concerns; attention to both theory and practice; extensiveness of pedagogical alternatives; provision of research opportunities; relationship to the community, broadly defined, and to different feminist communities. In an effectively integrated curriculum, service learning would begin in the Women's Studies program's introductory course, and continue as a coordinated aspect of all curricular offerings. Introductory courses can introduce service learning in various ways. Optional projects, for example, might involve occasional or weekly site visits to potential service learning placements for inquiry, observation or limited participation. Student papers or presentations can be related to the concerns or projects of an agency in which they have an interest. Speakers from campus or community organizations can be invited to address the class. In upper division and advanced courses, instructors can make assignments that would be useful or appropriate for work-related situations, as well as (or rather than) assigning traditional academic research papers. In my feminist scholarship class, e.g., students prepare testimony for a hearing before a state legislative committee or commission. In those courses with a public policy emphasis, the potential for connecting research aspects of public policy to service learning might be explored even further. Those courses could put emphasis on the methodologies of needs assessment and evaluation. Class projects could be developed in cooperation with groups in the community that need assistance with grant applications or have use for particular research. Skills components of women's studies programs, e.g., assertiveness training, career development, management and problem solving, could be more integrated into the total curriculum if their usefulness to students preparing for service-learning placement is clearly articulated. Many institutions offer sponsored experiential learning courses, in which students devote a number of hours per week to a practicum placement or field activity, with additional classroom time provided to examine important issues centering around these work and service experiences. For the student who has already been involved in a variety of action projects through previous course-work, a full-time internship (working hours measured by a full course load) can help synthesize her program of study. For the student without such previous exposure, full-time field work could be an important entre to women's studies. Collective action courses offer another curricular model for providing practical experience. In one such course at Mankota State University, the class worked as a group to research the issue of sexual harassment on campus; students developed a brochure explaining the situation they discovered and outlined possible solutions. Instead of working with or at a particular agency, this class worked to develop public awareness about an existing problem and to suggest means for alleviating that problem. Just as students can work collectively on projects that serve public and community needs not otherwise being met, they can also be involved in meeting needs within the women's studies program itself. By developing orientation sessions for prospective service learning students, they can share their own previous experiences. By serving as part of a peer network, they can provide vital support for students in field placements, particularly those in stressful or conflictual work sites. By acting as leaders of co-seminars and discussion groups they can make possible an activity that small programs might otherwise have to forego. To ensure that placement experiences are meaningful for both the intern and the agency/program, formal mechanisms need to be created by which students can give feedback to a women's studies program, particularly so the curriculum can be strengthened to better prepare students to participate in service learning. One way to do this is to include field supervisors as members of women's studies program advisory committees. An ongoing evaluation plan will also help improve the service learning component of the curriculum and maintain its consistency with overall program philosophy. It will also indicate the efficacy of women's studies to university administrators. Several questions that were part of the original planning for service learning activities might continue to be examined during evaluation processes. For example, what kinds of internships are acceptable? If internships in corporations are appropriate, how should they be created and managed? What consideration should be given to the impact of voluteerism on students, and what ways can be found to ameliorate any negative financial impacts: encouraging agencies eligible for work-study aid to make use of such funds for service learning students; approaching women's groups for special scholarships for service learning activities; urging groups who can pay student interns to see the importance of such support? Are the mechanisms for matching student and placement working for the agency and the student? Are students adequately supported in this placement? Is the evaluation of the student's work fair and does that evaluation enhance the learning program? Besides benefiting students, service learning activities benefit community groups, women's studies, and the institution. Community groups benefit by the greater visibility of the activities that result from the involvement of excited students, by having access to the resources of the university, by the "new blood" and skills students bring with them. Both community and academe benefit from active communication and healthy interchange between academics and practitioners. The women's studies program benefits by giving to the community as well as getting from it. A natural support network for the program that must be respected by university officials is enhanced, one that will often result in new students, especially from previously hard-to-reach groups. These new students and the demands they bring will continue to enrich our programs and force us to continue to challenge the status quo. The institution benefits by having a stronger women's studies program, excited and involved students, connections to the community, and ultimately by the challenge these activities make to other departments on campus. Service learning, like women's studies, is a means of empowering students and contributing to the growth of strong women's communities on and off campus. The survival of prospering women's studies programs in the '80s is important to the development of a more humane society. Given the potential of student enrollment declines in our universities and with the certainty that financial resources will be limited, that survival may well depend upon the ability to develop integrated, innovative programs that meet students' needs, enhance the strengths and prestige of the university within its service community and are potential models for other disciplines. A strong service learning component could be one key for the accomplishment of those tasks. THE WOMEN'S STUDIES PRACTICUM AT LORETTO HEIGHTS: CASE STUDY FOR SMALL COLLEGES AND SMALL PROGRAMS Elizabeth Jameson To be effective, a women's studies service learning program must fit the circumstances of a particular campus. For other programs to assess the applicability of the Loretto Heights model to their situations, it is important to be aware of the controlling factors which shape our Women Studies Practicum: the nature of the college and its student body, the constraints under which the women studies program operates, and the college's location in a large urban area. If these particularities are taken into account, elements of the Loretto Heights practicum may usefully apply to other small programs. College/Student Profile Loretto Heights College is a private coeducational liberal arts college with some 800 undergraduate students. Until 1968 it was a Catholic women's college. Today, many faculty are nuns (who do not live in a convent or wear habits and who have endorsed an impressive statement on feminism and sexism), and the majority of students are Catholic, many from rural parochial school backgrounds. Roughly 80 percent of the faculty and students are female, and many of the younger entering students have never been in a predominantly male environment. These students are likely to have highly romanticized visions of womanhood and of marriage. The largest major is nursing, representing about 40-50 percent of all graduates. Among the nursing students there are two major groups: young, traditionally college age students, and some twenty military nurses a year who are completing B.S. degrees, from whom Women Studies draws a disproportionately high number of students and of minors. In addition, we draw disproportionately from the University Without Walls, an individualized degree program which represents some 20 percent of all graduates, about 80 of whom take LHC courses each year. UWW attracts many "older" women returning to school and a number of feminists in their 20's and 30's. The "average" Loretto Heights student is a woman in her mid-to-late twenties, Caucasian, middle to upper class, interested in the health sciences with a large number of available female role models, and who frequently has had some work experience before enrolling in the practicum. However, there is no really "average" Women Studies student, and our interns tend to be young nursing students with parochial school backgrounds, or older, more independent women with some work experience and a sharper awareness of sexism and of the feminist movement. Interns are either developing awareness of feminist career opportunities and enhancing growing feminist consciousness, or they are relatively new to the worlds of work and of feminism. This lack of experience is somewhat tempered by the clinical component of the nursing program, so that some of the younger interns do have the hospital setting to compare with their placement sites. The internship is part of an 18-credit minor in Women Studies, 2-6 credits of which must be practicum. This requirement is consistent with goals of feminist service learning generally; it is envisioned as a place from which students can relate the academic skills and interests of women studies to the "real world" of women's needs. Like most of the feminist agencies in which we place women studies interns, the women studies program is understaffed and over committed. I am the only professional staff, and my half-time position includes all aspects of running a research center and the Women Studies Minor, teaching a course a term besides the practicum, and non-curricular programming. In my copious free time I administer the internships and meet with and advise practicum students. Fortunately, given limited staff time, we have many fewer minors than women studies students and tend, on the average, to have only 1-3 interns per term. Therefore, we have no ongoing internships (positions which are continuously staffed by a Loretto Heights student) and an independent study format instead of a formal co-seminar. Ironically, given the problems of more geographically isolated schools, we always have more potential placement sites than interns. Denver is a large urban area with a rich variety of feminist agencies and organizations eager to sponsor women studies interns. There is, however, considerable instability of feminist placement sites; our state Commission of Women was just unfunded by the State Legislature, and several safe houses for battered women were recently denied city funding and closed while new funding was arranged. Given this instability and the unpredictable numbers and interests of student interns, I tend to arrange placements each term, using as a placement base my contacts with the Denver area feminist community, and trying always to have a number of contacts going with health-related agencies. Such a process might be more difficult for one who was new to an area or who had fewer resources on which to draw; however, community-based feminist agencies are a good base for developing placements, and persons in one agency will generally refer to other or more appropriate persons and agencies. Our placement process begins when a student comes to me and expresses an interest in the Women Studies Practicum. I talk with the student to assess her/his needs and desires from a placement experience, like specific work skills, exposure to a feminist work setting, exposure to the corporate work world, interest in a particular issue like rape or daycare, etc. I also try to assess the student's previous experience and more intangible qualities like maturity, level of feminist consciousness, need for supervision, etc. It is extremely important to match skills and motives to appropriate placement sites; a student who wanted primarily to develop skills in non-hierarchical management would not necessarily fit in well at the local Women's Bank, for instance. I then suggest several placement alternatives which might fit the student's needs and describe what I know of the agency and the work the student might be doing there. My guidelines for appropriate placements are: the supervisor must be a self-identified feminist, s/he must be willing to engage in ongoing contracting and supervision and must be willing to act as a teacher, and the work for the intern must be "real" work, not "busy work" which could be learned in any office setting. The student selects a placement or placements to explore, and contacts the work supervisor to discuss the matter. When a student and a supervisor have agreed to the internship, they negotiate a contract, which may be renegotiated, regarding the student's learning goals, the work to be done, the number of hours and work time committed per week, the nature and frequency of supervision, the criteria for evaluating the intern, and other matters appropriate to the student's relationship to the placement site. The student then contracts with me, the Practicum Instructor, regarding her more analytic and personal learning goals, reading and written assignments, a regular meeting time, and evaluation criteria. Essentially we structure an independent study which is the rough equivalent of the co-seminar in a larger program. For each credit, the student must work the equivalent of 2.5 hours a week for a 16-week term, or perform roughly 40 hours or work per credit. In addition, s/he keeps a journal or other record of the work experience, does some related reading and short written assignments analyzing the placement experience, and writes a final evaluation of the internship, taking into account the goals outlined in the original contracts with the instructor and the work supervisor. I assign the final grade, after consulting with the placement supervisor and the student. What sorts of jobs have LHC Women Studies interns held? The majority have been health- or service-related, including rape counseling, and doing a survey of resources for battered women in the area. (In this instance, I was the placement supervisor and the directory produced is used by our women's center.) One student who had trained in sexuality counseling ran a sexuality workshop for her practicum, supervised by a local feminist therapist. Other internship possibilities have included doing research on day care available at Colorado work sites for the state Commission on Women, interning as a legislative lobbyist for NOW, and working as a legislative intern for a feminist State Senator. In addition, there are potential placements at non-feminist worksites, if the student is placed with a feminist supervisor. These may be one solution for programs with fewer potential feminist placement sites. For instance, a business major will do her practicum in the near future with a feminist who is a Public Relations Director for Mountain Bell Telephone Company. The supervisor helped to form a group called Women in Management at Mountain Bell, and I fantasize that the student will learn something about establishing feminist support networks in the corporate world, as well as learn about public relations. Considerable responsibility falls on the independent study component of the practicum to encourage feminist learning from the work experience. Students are encouraged to see their internships in relation to others' by using as a frame of reference their previous work experiences. Although there is a disadvantage to students in the lack of exchange with other interns, there is some advantage in the individualized approach of the small program: I can create assignments to fit the student's particular needs. Who Makes the Coffee? Strategies for Encouraging Feminist Learning In Programs Without Co-Seminars A small service learning program which runs essentially as an independent study cannot provide the same rich exchange of experience which students in larger programs may gain through co-seminars, and it can become an imaginative exercise to encourage each student's feminist learning throughout her internship. This possibility of meeting each individual student where s/he is and moving from that place can also provide a nourishing learning situation; the strategies for learning designed to complement a placement are limitless, and some exercises might be useful in co-seminars as well. The exact knowledge, skills, and attitudes I try to encourage vary with each student, depending on her level of development in job skills, interpersonal skills, analytic skills, and feminist consciousness. Until a student has, for example, recognized the existence of subtle and overt job discrimination, it is relatively meaningless to encourage her to develop skills to combat sexism at the worksite. Until she is aware of differences in hierarchically and non-hierarchically structured offices, it doesn't mean much to suggest she grapple with the difficulties and advantages of each structure. I have sponsored interns who did not particularly need individually designed exercises to encourage their learning, but who were ready to devote their major energy to exploring a career or issue. With these students, I generally assign related reading and ask for a journal and a reflective paper for processing the experience. But for other students, newer to the worlds of work and of feminism, I have tried to devise exercises to enhance feminist awareness through the internship. I realize that I rely heavily on my own experience, asking myself how I became aware of the existence of sexism, how that manifested itself in my early job experiences, what models I had of feminist coping strategies, etc. My academic background as a cultural historian prompts some of the exercises, both in terms of what I ask students to observe, and in my concept of student as participant/observer at the placement site. I find it useful to employ a non-feminist work setting as a frame of reference; if the student is interning at a feminist agency, I rely on past work experiences in more traditional settings, or on interviews which the student conducts with women working in traditional settings, to provide this contrast. If the intern works at a traditional work situation (always, in my program, with a feminist supervisor), then the task is, broadly, to enhance consciousness of sex-typed roles and behaviors, and to increase awareness of survival strategies for women in "the regular work world." If the work site is a feminist agency, then the student may analyze how "feminist" the work structure is, how women's roles differ in feminist and in traditional settings, how feminist goals, processes, and interpersonal contacts contrast with those of the dominant business world. The following suggestions are some exercises I have used in the independent study component of a women studies internship; each person can probably devise countless others that fit a personal teaching style and individual student needs. 1. Analyze the decision making and work structure of the office. Who sets goals, makes policy? Who implements policy? What distinguishes persons who do the "scut" work from persons in policy-making positions (race, gender, age, volunteer status, etc.)? 2. In agencies trying to develop non-hierarchical structures, how is policy made? How are responsibilities determined? What are the long- and short-term hassles and benefits of consensual decision making, in terms of both making and implementing policy? 3. Observe informal decision-making patterns and interactions, to distinguish sexist, classist, agist, and racist behavior. Who talks with whom? About what? How often? What names do various personnel call one another by? (Is it Janey and Mr. Smith?) Who stands in whose presence? Are there language or touch patterns which reinforce hierarchy at the worksite? For instance, since many Loretto Heights students are student nurses, I ask them to use hospital etiquette as a reference (and to compare the roles of nurses in traditional hospitals with, say, a rape counseling situation). Students generally observe that doctors initiate touch with nurses, but not vice versa, and that doctors talk medical slang ("cutting") until nurses join them, and then they switch to technical language ("Appendectomy"). 4. Interview other workers at your placement about their duties, compensations, how they cope with childcare and housework responsibilities, what place work has in their lives, etc. (Do all co-workers consider themselves responsible for household and family duties? Who does their laundry, gets dinner, etc.?) 5. Talk with co-workers about why they work and what satisfaction they derive from it. How does the meaning of work differ for you (the intern), for women, and for men in traditional and in feminist work-sites? 6. Analyze the job classifications and, if possible, the pay scale for the occupations at your agency. Analyze jobs by job title, duties, and pay, and by who performs them. Question: How is an executive secretary different from an administrative assistant? Answer: She does everything he does for half the pay and makes the coffee besides. 7. Have lunch with the managers and with the secretaries. How long does each group take for lunch? Where do they go? How much, on the average, do they spend for lunch? If there is an employees' lunch-room, who eats there? What does each group talk about? How do members of the group relate to one another? (This exercise could be translated to joining other employees in off-work activities, of finding out what they do after work or on weekends, comparing by job, marital status, parental status, etc.) 8. If the supervisor is a feminist in a traditional worksite, compare her supervisory style with other persons in similar positions. Does her secretary have a different feeling/working relationship than other secretaries have with their bosses? Who makes the coffee in the office? The possibilities are infinite and can draw on other resources. For instance, a quick look at the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau publication, "Handbook on Women Workers", provides an excellent introduction to jobs aggregation, pay discrimination, etc., and may be a good starting point before asking a student to analyze the conditions at her placement. Or a business student might be encouraged to read _Games_Mother_Never_Taught_You_ and then to consider the adequacy of male metaphors (football, the military) for her in relating to the corporate world, and to develop new metaphors to suit her situation. When the student starts devising her own exercises and analytic frame-works, it is a good sign that the service learning experience has effectively heightened her awareness of choices and implications she will continue to face as a working woman. Conclusion The Loretto Heights Practicum appears to accomplish most for those who have had some prior work experience and for the more mature, self-motivated student. The discoveries of younger, previously sheltered students are often more basic (jobs are sex-segregated) and more emotionally wrenching (identification with rape victims). The basic advantage of a small program is that individualized programming can take these differences into account. The basic disadvantage is that younger students, especially, have no exchange with others dealing with a variety of feminist issues. The interns are very much dependent on my quirks, community contacts, and on the limits of my time, energy and creativity. The practicum clearly impacts both the students and the larger feminist community. Students gain knowledge of ways to develop and apply skills in feminist contexts, and begin to imagine ways to create new careers for themselves. Most of the placements are in agencies, like Safe Houses, which did not exist ten years ago, and which were created out of women's needs and energies. This is a useful realization for career-panicked students. The student who ran a sexuality workshop is now a counselor in an abortion clinic and she runs some women's sexuality groups. So one impact of the internship is the proliferation of feminist services in the long run. For the agencies, the benefits are broader than receiving work assistance; less tangibly, exposure to the concerns of a variety of students, including those just encountering feminist awareness, is an important input for the agency staff. The placements provide a variety of learning possibilities, from basic skills (communication, budgeting, advertising, etc.), to an introduction to differences between feminist and sexist work settings, to philosophies of feminist organization and communication. Students may encounter new strategies for developing their own support networks, develop new skills (rape counseling) and begin to imagine ways to use skills for other women. Besides educating students regarding feminist issues like battering and credit and daycare, our biggest success appears to be helping returning students transfer skills to the workworld and increasing their self-confidence, introducing students to feminist agencies and networks, and helping women who have worked primarily in the health fields imagine new ways to use these skills within a women's community. At Loretto Heights, I think our largest long-term impact for women will be in the fields of nursing and the healing arts. Students begin to question the medical hierarchy and to find ways to transform it or to use skills differently within it. For instance, one military nurse who graduated with a Women Studies minor has developed a program for raped and battered women at her current military base. As one colleague recently told me, "Your practicum makes you into a Jenny Appleseed for the military." It is not a goal I would have imagined for myself or for the program, but it may be a significant achievement. INTEGRATING THEORY AND PRACTICE IN A SERVICE LEARNING CO-SEMINAR Nancy Schniedewind The ability to apply feminist theory to personal and social change efforts, and in turn to use that practical experience to evaluate and recreate theory, is an important process goal for women's studies students. A field-work course is an excellent context for this learning to take place. "Fieldwork in Women's Studies," an upper division, three credit course,is required for women's studies majors, taken toward the end of their program of study. This course, which usually enrolls from 6 to 8 students each semester, is also open to other upper-division students who have had two women's studies courses. Students work in a field placement for a minimum of six hours a week and must also participate in a two hour seminar once every three weeks. There are many ways to define service learning in women's studies. At New Paltz, fieldwork is a three to six credit experience that is one part of a student's full course load and is completed at a site in commuting distance from campus. An internship is a 15-18 credit experience that is, itself, a student's full course load, and is often taken in another geographical area; this latter experience is more intensive, and we recommend it for students who have already taken fieldwork. My focus in this paper is on what we define as fieldwork, which necessitates that students come together as a group for a seminar every three weeks. The overriding intent of "Fieldwork in Women's Studies" is to provide students an opportunity to learn to integrate feminist theory and practice, encouraging them to see their own potential to foster change. The specific goals of the course are for students to: - Gain practical experience and skills by working in feminist organizations and projects - Make a positive contribution to women's program or activity in the community - Analyze various approaches for creating personal and social change - Develop skills for integrating theoretical knowledge and practical experience to promote feminist goals A series of "relevant questions" that reflect these goals are posed on the syllabus at the beginning of the course. These provide a framework for thinking, discussion, and journal entries as we proceed through the course. They include: - What are our goals for the feminist movement? - How do various projects we work with promote these, or other, goals? - What are the approaches to change that women have and do utilize? On what assumptions are these based? - How can theory instruct practice in the feminist movement? In the organizations we work with? In our lives? - How do issues of class and race affect our theory and action strategies? - How is personal change related to social change? How can the two be synthesized most effectively? - How can we overcome feelings of helplessness and work effectively and cooperatively for change? Our focus on creating personal and social change through the fieldwork experience has implications for the choice of placement. It has been argued that women's studies students can do fieldwork in any setting--from a major corporation to a fast food shop--and learn to apply a feminist perspective to their experience. To a degree, that is true. Nevertheless, we have a choice about the total experience we-want our students to have. If our goals are to use fieldwork to instruct students in the theory and practice of catalyzing change for women, I believe it is important to place students in organizations with similar goals--to the extent it is possible in a given community--so that way the process and content of what we are teaching is consistent with their work setting, and their learning is therefore more powerful and integrated. Our students have, and will have, many chances--for better or worse!- -to work within institutions whose goals are to serve the status quo. This is one opportunity for them to experience an alternative, as part of an organization that advocates other values and visions. Experiential knowledge of an alternative enables students to know that such a reality is possible again for them in the future. In addition, students are resources as well as learners. We must ask ourselves where we want to direct our woman power and that of our students. At New Paltz we have decided that it is into those feminist and progressive organizations struggling for social change. Usually these are organizations that have meager resources, money, and personnel. In these settings students' energy can make a significant difference to the group's effectiveness, and women's studies continues to empower the women's movement that spawned it. The theory/practice focus in the fieldwork course also has implications for the nature of the co-seminar. Rather than teach skills, the seminar is the arena in which we collectively attempt to apply issues raised in the readings to field experiences. Since most of the upper division students at New Paltz who take this course have had solid skills, we have not faced the need for a skills component. It is, however, very important that students have job-related competencies before beginning a placement. These might include: writing, speaking, public communication, interviewing, data gathering, assertiveness with supervisor, role-taking ability, and group skills. Should it be necessary to teach these competencies, I'd propose a one credit modular course, "Introduction to Fieldwork in Women's Studies," to meet the need. Such a short-term, intensive course would prepare students for their fieldwork and enable the co-seminar to focus more directly on analysis. As students wish or need to, they see me independently concerning their particular placement. I meet with the entire group of field work students six times during the semester for two hours. The requirements for the course include: (1) completion of all assigned readings, (2) a detailed journal documenting learning from their fieldwork and analysis of their reading; and (3) a final paper describing learnings regarding the synthesis of theory and practice to foster change. Their final grade is based on their self evaluation, their supervisor's evaluation, and the quality of these assignments. Through the course it is my aim that students become active participants in a fieldwork experience, reflect upon it, generalize about it, and apply the generalizations to the experience to better understand it and/or change it. The seminar provides the forum for reflection, conceptualization, and discussion of application. In the first co-seminar session, students get acquainted, describe their fieldwork placement to each other, and discuss their expectations for the semester. I share my expectations and delineate the requirements for the course. We begin all subsequent sessions with time for each student to share an experience, excitement or a problem from her fieldwork situation. Students learn more about others' projects, and get support or problem solving strategies, as needed; I can identify any students having difficulties, and arrange time for a follow-up conference. While we spend no more than thirty minutes on this process, it is valuable for sharing brainstorming solutions to common--or not-so-common!--problems, renewing energy, and validating the personal change students experience. Sessions two and three, titled "Feminist Frameworks," are devoted to analysis of various theoretical perspectives from which to view woman's oppression and strategies for change. Students read selections from "Feminist Frame-works: Alternative Theoretical Accounts of the Relations between Women and Men" by Alison Jagger and Paula Struhl, and `Anarchism: The Feminist Connection' by Peggy Kornegger in "Reinventing Anarchy", edited by Howard and Carol Ehrlich. We discuss liberal, Marxist, radical feminist, socialist feminist, and anarchist-feminist theories. Concurrently, students are making observations in their field settings and recording responses to these questions in their journals: - What are the explicit and implicit goals of the organization or project you work with? - How do their practices support or differ from their goals? - From what framework--or combination thereof--is your organization working? How do you know? - What feminist framework(s) do you feel most reflects your beliefs? In the seminar, we discuss not only the theoretical perspectives, but also the way in which students applied these frameworks to the reality of their fieldwork. We compare and contrast the modus operandi and values of various groups. Students compare their perspectives with each other, and to the organizations represented. It is important to note that in talking about feminist frameworks in relationship to field placements, I encourage a norm of acceptance for every organization involved. We consistently affirm the valuable work all do, and analyze practice from different points of view. Sometimes these critiques are brought back to students' placements to impact practice; students are encouraged to share issues they're dealing with in the seminar with persons in their placement. About one third of the students work with a campus-based organization, like the birth control clinic, so there are often opportunities for critical suggestions to be discussed and implemented because students feel more power to foster change in groups organized by peers. At all times, however, I expect support and respect for all organizations. Session four is titled "Theory in Action." Students read: "Toward a Political Morality" by Barbara Ehrenreich; "The Reform Tool Kit" by Charlotte Bunch; and "The Women of Williamsburg" by Carol Brightman. We discuss how theory is put to work in feminist projects. The focus for students' observations and journal entries is Charlotte Bunch's discussion of non-reformist reforms. Bunch describes a reform as any change that alters the condition of life in a particular area, noting it can be conservative or revolutionary. She defines reformism as a particular ideological position--basically liberalism--and puts forth five criteria for distinguishing a non-reformist reform. Students are asked to examine their organizations with these criteria in mind. In the seminar we discuss not only the content of these articles, but the application of Bunch's thinking. We formulate specific ways organizations could change, should they want to, to be more in tune with those criteria. These questions enable students to carefully examine their organizations, their impact and outcomes, and the ways they're part of, or a challenge to, the status quo. A student who worked in a birth control clinic made the following journal entry, which I quote with her permission. The birth control clinic is being quite effective at what its goals are. I would hope that those who work for it, as well as other reform type organizations, will not merely stop at them and feel they have created the solutions. What I've learned from working for this type of agency is that to stop and "settle" for it is in a sense defeating a purpose of fighting for social change. This is not to say that those who work there are not making enormous contributions to society and women. I feel now I owe it to women and myself to struggle for social change that will hopefully some day eliminate the need for reform organizations to begin with--i.e., rape crisis centers and so on. I want to change the society that killed women who were used as guinea pigs to test the pill and the IUD, I want to change the society that doesn't bother to do any further research for more humane methods of birth control and expects women to be thankful for what methods they've got... This student, a superb practitioner in the birth control clinic, could affirm the significance of her project's work, and at the same time increase her critical consciousness in light of the theoretical issues raised. The fifth session of the seminar focuses on class issues. Students read "Class and Feminism" by Charlotte Bunch et al. They observe and record issues about class as they relate to themselves and to their placement. - What is the class background of the people you work with? The people your project serves/empowers? - What class values are reflected in the goals and procedures of the group? - How does your class background affect the way you view yourself, women's oppression and strategies for social change? Given the way we're taught not to discuss class difference, this session tends to be a very powerful learning experience. Students have sometimes returned to their fieldwork settings to raise basic issues generated in this session. In the final session, "Social Equality: Visions, Goals and Strategies," we discuss Marge Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time". Students respond to these questions in their journals. - Describe the reality and the vision that Piercy presents. - Compare that to the reality of our society and the vision of your field placement. - Compare Piercy's vision and yours. This class, too, is powerful, because of the clarity and strength of Piercy's writing. Students talk of their visions, and we share what we've learned about strategies for social change. At this session a final paper is due in which students detail what they've learned from integrating theory and practice with an emphasis on fostering personal and social change. Since these themes are fresh in their thinking, discussion is often rich. Throughout the semester students have: been part of a feminist action project; reflected upon their experience in journals and seminars; used writings of feminists as the basis for further conceptualization; applied these theoretical views to their field experience; suggested new action for themselves and their organizations based on that process. By participating in a social change effort, students change as individuals. They learn new competencies, acknowledge skills they already had, and gain a sense of personal power by working in a collective effort toward feminist goals. The seminar reinforces this personal change with support and constructive criticism: sharing their personal development in a group setting, students feel their individual and collective empowerment more deeply. A student in my course made the following summary statement, which I quote with her permission. I really must say that I've learned a great deal from this entire experience. I feel stronger about my own abilities now that I've proven to myself that I can do it. Therefore,I feel now I'm ready for a change...l finally realize that sitting back and merely intellectualizing about oppression in society is not enough and that only through action will things change. Now I'm willing and ready to devote my energies to doing that. I've gained through the course the courage as well as the realization to admit this, and to act upon it. In reflecting on this model for a fieldwork course and seminar, I see several developments that could reinforce its goals. In the context of the course as described, I intend to have students work in pairs or small groups in as many organizations as possible. While this may cut down on the number of feminist projects we connect with in a given semester, it will provide students a built-in support group in which to discuss issues raised by the experience: Further, it will give them a cooperative experience as activists and reinforce the idea that it takes people working together to effect change. A second semester course, "Fieldwork in Women's Studies II" could also be developed, to enable students to apply their learning from the basic course more consistently and cooperatively. Students would work together as a group to choose a receptive organization to work with, or to define a problem affecting women in the community. They would develop a theoretical framework for addressing a problem in the context of that framework. For example, if part of their working theory involved the negative influence of class bias and racism on women's liberation, the group might work with the local health care center to survey the effectiveness of their services for low-income and minority women. If they found areas for improvement, the group could cooperate with the health center to develop strategies to try meet those needs. In this second course they would even be more actively formulating theory and applying it in praxis. The process of the working group itself would be an equally important area for learning. During the Women's Studies Service Learning Institute, Marti Bombyk, another participant, made a distinction between feminist consciousness and conscience: the former an awareness of women's oppression which can then be limited to the quest for personal liberation, the latter the combination of consciousness with action, which seeks to empower women as a group. Surely a valid goal for service learning in women's studies is the movement of feminist consciousness toward conscience. It is my hope that this description of a fieldwork course with a co-seminar that encourages dialectical process has been helpful, and will catalyze us all to renewed consciousness and conscience. REFERENCES Brightman, Carol. "Women of Williamsburg," Working Papers for a New Society, Jan./Feb., 1978. Bunch, Charlotte. "The Reform Tool Kit," Guest: A Feminist Quarterly, Vol. 1, 1974. (For a list of Bunch's five criteria for reform, see p. in this volume.) Bunch, Charlotte, et al., "Class and Feminism". Baltimore: Diana Press, 1974. Ehrenreich, Barbara. "Toward a Political Morality," Liberation Magazine, July/August, 1977. Ehrlich, Howard, and Ehrlich, Carol, eds. Reinventing Anarchy. London and Boston: Routledge, Kegan, Paul, 1979. Jagger, Alison, and Struhl, Paula. Feminist Frameworks: "Alternative Theoretical Accounts of the Relation between Women and Men". New York: McGraw Hill, 1978. Piercy, Marge. "Woman on the Edge of Time". Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Books, 1976. BRIDGING THEORY AND THE PRACTICUM: A COURSE IN WOMEN'S STUDIES Melanie Kaye (This essay was originally delivered as a talk to the annual convention of the MLA in December 1977. It appeared in the "Women's Studies Newsletter", Summer 1978, Vol. VI, No. 3, as "Feminist Theory and Practice," and is reprinted by permission of The Feminist Press.) I want to talk about why we should include training in feminist theory and practice in women's studies programs; and to describe the sequence of courses designed at Portland State University to provide this training, in particular the segment I teach called Feminist Theory and Practice. Let me begin by looking back to the origins of women's studies, in the context of a burgeoning movement. Women's studies programs came into being because of women's power to demand these programs. Because women did demand these programs. Because in the turmoil of the sixties and early seventies, campus administrators were under pressure to make concessions, pressure which we had helped to create and which we were astute enough to increase in various ways, from writing polite letters to sitting in. Because even our polite letters were backed by the existence of an activist movement and the possibility of more militant action. The existence of women's studies thus testifies to women's power. This fact suggests one reason why we should provide women with political training; like all sound political reasoning, it is at least partly selfish. In the current economic crunch, women's studies programs are in danger. If we don't help women to articulate collective power, learn how and where to act, we will not have women's power supporting women's studies. Feminist activity made women's studies possible. Women's studies must in turn help make feminist activity possible, if we are to survive as women's studies teachers, or as teachers, for that matter (some of us, like myself, have already been axed), or even as women. But granted that political training is necessary, why should women's studies provide it? Because inside and outside the universities and colleges, opportunities for acquiring political skills are hard to come by. Let me use my personal history, for I think my experience fairly common. I learned about feminism and the need for an autonomous women's movement through my participation, in other movements, especially the civil rights and antiwar movements. Like many women with this background, I was a student in the late sixties and early seventies, and my first feminist work was directed toward the university. I was part of the women's caucus (in comparative literature at the University of California/Berkeley) that demanded a class and the choice of instructor; and I was blessed with teaching that first class, digging out books from my friends' collections, devouring the first issues of "Female Studies" for titles. Looking back, I am overwhelmed by the naivete and starvation of those early efforts. I actually typed up a list for my class called "Books by Women" that was less than a page long. All of this work--from the struggle to get the class, to the creation of curriculum, to the trial-and-error invention of new classroom structures--included political training. In that first class, politics was clearly part of the subject, and would have been whether I wanted it there or not. Many of the students also considered themselves part of the women's movement. Literature and politics clasped hands as women defined the parameters of common experience; or clashed noisily as women argued their preference for Nin over Lessing, or Lessing over Nin. Some wanted less politics, some wanted more; but everyone knew that what we were doing was in fact political, slightly outside the law, and precious. The explosive growth that was happening to so many of us was happening in the context of a larger whole -a vital, ornery women's liberation movement. Many of us were reading passionately on our own time and in our nonacademic women's groups the feminist theoretical writings which were just then appearing and which, along with actual events, were urging us to new edges, new possibilities. Looking for the Women's Movement Now we see a different picture. The women's movement is fragmented and under attack, still vital in some places (Portland being one), but thriving in particular projects and counter institutions: coffee houses, health clinics, rape hotlines, bookstores -and women's studies programs. These projects tend to be highly specific and task-oriented, rather than broadly political. Besides, having been around for a while, they have tended to solidify into a particular way of functioning, especially since the essential task of maintaining them usually requires all available energy. They are often not open to absorbing the energy of new women (which, barring unusual coincidence, is bound to be different energy). Moreover, the movement now has a history almost ten years long and a body of theory. One problem the women's movement, like the Left, has reeled under is our difficulty in learning from what has happened before us, even a few years before us. Some knowledge of the history and existing traditions of feminism should at least make it possible for us to avoid rehashing the same issues, and to ground ourselves in a common context. In addition, many women now coming to college have never experienced how movements can win victories. Even the women's studies classes we meet them in are givens. Women students-- especially at an urban working-class public institution like Portland State--bring a wealth of experience with them; and I am sure all schools have felt the impact of returning women students. But while consciousness of feminist issues has spread widely, a sense of possible break-through, of modes of resistance and activity, has not. "What can I do?" people say. Everything in this society, from the threat of rape to having social security numbers to unemployment to being put on hold, seems designed to make us feel helpless; or, at best, we seek individual solutions. In a time when there are not many places to learn how to think and act politically, the need for women's studies to provide such training becomes all the more pressing, especially since in many towns and cities, women's studies is the most visible aspect of feminist activity. Last spring about half the thirty women who enrolled in my course on Feminist Theory and Practice were nonstudents. They weren't looking for credits; they were looking for the women's movement. A Core Curriculum At Portland State, an incremental unit has been developed to provide training in feminist theory and practice, a core curriculum which women's studies minors are urged to take whether their field of concentration is biology or literature, structural engineering or law. The curriculum begins with an introduction to women's studies, oriented toward issues and designed to acquaint women with the existing feminist activities and institutions in Portland. The second course is an introduction to feminist theory, which covers ovular second wave texts in such a way that women can not only absorb the tradition(s), but also assess, evaluate, and synthesize what seems useful and accurate. The third course on theory and practice was invented to bridge the gap between the theory course and the last course in the sequence, which is practicum-fieldwork in a feminist institution or on a project for women's use. Some favorite examples of practicum work include: creating and maintaining a women's gallery; organizing a series of women's readings in the gallery (both of which projects have the double function of providing women makers with space to be seen and heard, and giving women the chance to see and hear women's work - and not incidentally support to become makers themselves); lobbying in the Oregon State Legislature for legislation which forces the police to arrest men who beat women, and which makes marital rape a crime; writing a book on climbing for women and teaching a group of women to climb; as well as working in such places at the women's bookstore, women's resource center, or shelter for battered women, The Germ of the Course I'll focus now on the course I was asked to teach, since it's especially odd. It was offered through the Department of Philosophy, but in truth it seems to me outside academic categories, nondisciplinary. In the sixties it would have been called "Now That We Know What We Think, How Do We Figure Out What To Do?" This practical emphasis separates it from most university disciplines. And, infact, a problem I had with this course is that there are almost no appropriate readings for it, a situation reminiscent of those early days I was talking about. What we need to read hasn't been written yet. On the other hand, also reminiscent, I was forced to be inventive. The Women's Studies Program asked me to design a course that would connect theory with practice. I was first delighted, then stumped. I knew what I did not want. I knew I did not want to spend time and blood on sterile questions like, "Are men the enemy? Are lesbians the vanguard? Can change happen within the system? Is armed revolution essential?- Possible? What is the primary contradiction?" etc. These questions have helped tear our movement to pieces, yet no one knows the answers - because at this point in our history, they're unanswerable. There are some theoretical points we cannot move beyond because we don't have enough practice yet to assess and understand the multifaceted and rapidly changing reality we confront in the late seventies. Questions that seem more useful--like "What do we need? How can we get it? What do we want? How can we get it?"--these questions can be answered, if at all, through problem-solving, trial and error: that is to say, through practice. But how could I teach that? Either I was the wrong person for the course (a possibility I considered) or I had something to offer besides books and the already named questions. One morning I was circling around my brain trying to think up a course outline, and I got hungry. I took out a loaf of bread and noticed that the label said, "No preservatives added." This was not hippie 47,000-grain bread, this was commercial supermarket bread. Now I am 32 years old, and I remember that not very long ago "No preservatives added" would not have been considered an asset. What pressures forced Northridge Bread to leave out preservatives? And how interesting it was that Northridge Bread had turned the ecology movement into a selling point. Where upon I realized that I had the germ--at least a germ--of the course. So I constructed the course out of my thinking process, what I am aware of in the world, trying to analyze how I problem-solve, how I assess situations and figure out how to act and what is possible. I defined the goal of the class as providing necessary skills to attack the institution of helplessness. I also wanted the course to arm women against some of the destructive phenomena I, along with many women, had experienced working in the movement: guilt-tripping, trashing, avoidance of conflict, alienation, ignoring differences or exaggerating them. Here are some things we did. I began on the first day by asking women to note one way in which they felt different from everyone else in the room, and to share that perceived difference. The point was to learn our commonality: older, younger, mother, lesbian, working-class, rural, married; and where the difference was genuine--in the case of the one Asian woman, or the one instructor and assumed power-center (me)--that difference got articulated straight off. I asked women to write their vision of an ideal future - if everything were possible. The point was to tap our desires, to think as big as possible, to loose the visionary component which inspires and encourages political activity.I asked women to make a list--this class was largely composed of lists--of five things (books, people, ideas, movies, whatever) they thought of as pseudo-feminist, and to justify their choices. Based on these lists we tried to reach a consensus on what we meant by "feminist." The next and probably most crucial step in the course, according to student evaluations, was to appropriate the dialectical method. I chose to include this component because for me learning to think dialectically was a slow but dramatic break through confusion. After a presentation on dialectics from a woman familiar with Hegel and Marx, the assignment was for each student to analyze dialectically a problem she was dealing with right at that moment. We went over the problems in class, contradiction by contradiction: problems like how much to let kids watch TV, men not sharing in housework, raising boy children to be strong and non-oppressive to women; many indecisions about living situations, jobs, and school. Interestingly, several women resolved their selected problem through this exercise. Problems about immediate choices were particularly amenable to this approach. With others the blocks to solution became apparent: as in how to raise boy children. The point was not to work magic, an instant cure, but to teach an approach that could incorporate the flux and crash of phenomena, a way of seeing that was not static; moral, artificially compartmentalized or polarized, but rather could apprehend conflicting aspects as part of the same whole.It was a way of figuring out what we can and cannot solve, and at what level-- internal, familial, communal, societal, global--solution is possible. We talked about consciousness, about what had made changes in our consciousness possible, about the relationship between changing consciousness and a changing world, how they make each other possible or not, how we make them both possible and how they have made/continue to make us. We dealt with the muddy hole into which entire movements have fallen of explaining behavior that doesn't make sense to movement participants as "coming from false consciousness." Thus the Old Left has explained the racism that keeps white workers from uniting with their Black working-class brothers (sic) without asking what concrete privileges whites obtain, regardless of class, from the institution of racism (without, for that matter, questioning whether the white working class is any more racist than the white middle class). In the women's movement, "false consciousness" mostly comes dressed as "role conditioning." We've all read about it in `Ms.', not to mention a fair amount of what is being written under the rubric of feminist scholarship. Thus women's consumption habits--or makeup, or clothing which seems degrading to the "liberated" woman with her "true" consciousness (i.e. the woman who has dispelled her conditioning), or female opposition to the ERA--get written off. (This idea has been with me for years, but I think its source was Ellen Willis' article on "Women and Consumerism," one of the best examples of the Redstockings' analysis. The fullest critique of the "role conditioning" approach can be found in "Feminist Revolution" by the Redstockings women, now available from Random House for (alas) $6.00.) What gets left out of this analysis is the real pleasure we get from exercising our limited power to choose among products; the fact that women who dress to appeal to men may be surviving rather than backward; or that women feel sensibly threatened by the idea of losing some of the scanty protection we have. Changes You Have Seen, Changes You Want to Make We made more lists. Fifty changes you have seen in your own lifetime (a spinoff from Northridge Bread). Fifty, a large number, so that no one would spend time puzzling over which changes were most important: any fifty. The point here was to sensitize ourselves to the astonishing flux we live through and with, in order to counter our sense of immutability, and especially our sense that social movements do not, for example, help stop wars in Viet Nam, or force bakeries to put out a "health" line. We focused on a few changes. How did they come about? What has happened/could have happened/could still happen from them? Another list, this time of changes you want to make in your life: any ten. Divide into changes you can make by yourself; changes you can make with one other-friend, lover, child, therapist; changes you need a group for. Pick one change that requires a group. Define the group. Make a plan. List the pre-requisites for each step of the plan. What keeps you from making the change? Some other topics, briefly: some dealt with, some touched on, some passed over because as usual there was not enough time: feelings and experiences about working in groups, masses, individualism vs. individuality; rigid rules of conduct, guilt vs. responsibility; contemporary theories of social change; spotting political assumptions; survival - your work and its relationship to your politics, where you can work for change in your present or future job; process vs. product; self-activity (the politics of fun). So much for the academic quarter. During the assignment on "changes you want," every woman in the class had listed "stopping rape," a striking commonality. A smaller core of women from the class has continued to meet as an action group--again reminiscent of early women's studies--and this fall helped plan a wonderful anti-rape event, the Women's Night Watch, in which two hundred women marched in the rain to reclaim the night. The Night Watch was an energy boost, the effects of which are still being felt. Activity generates awareness generates more activity. Night Watch helped create a climate of activism about violence against women. And Night Watch happened in part because of the focus provided by this class. I don't take credit for this. The women in the class were remarkable -although one suspects that most women are remarkable when they get the chance to be. And clearly fighting rape and other violence against women is an idea whose time has come. Nor am I offering a six-month plan to revitalize the movement. I simply mean to suggest the possibilities of encouraging women to think seriously about change as something we can make, and to experiment with various forms of group activity. Now you may be wondering what this has to do with you. My experience with teaching and with political organizing tells me that these are basically similar activities. The task: to create a situation in which people can mobilize their own energy, in which people use their experience and the materials on hand to make something new. The function: to clarify, offer options, supply information. The goal: to make oneself ultimately unnecessary to the group. The approach: highly empirical, allowing ourselves and our students to risk failure. I know women who teach women's studies who have said to me, "But I know something about literature (or psychology, or history). I don't know enough about politics." It is true that in the women's communities of many towns and cities there are competent women who could teach political theory and practice on a wage-section basis (which is how I teach). But I also want to suggest that women who have been part of the struggle for and development of women's studies, who have experimented with different kinds of classroom structures, studied the process of group dynamics and power, discovered new materials and disciplines and combined old materials and disciplines in new ways - women who have done these things have learned a great deal about feminist theory and practice. One of our tasks now should be to teach women what women's studies and the women's liberation movement have taught us. THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF NEIGHBORHOOD WOMEN: EDUCATION IN THE COMMUNITY Laura Polla Scanlon (Acknowledged are the efforts of Terry Haywoode and Connie Noschese who contributed to portions of this essay.) There is a real need for locally-based higher education opportunities for women who are limited by the demands of family, work and community responsibilities. The impersonal and bureaucratic nature of many large institutions makes them culturally inaccessible to many neighborhood people. Ridgewood-Bushwick, Williamsburg-Greenpoint and Carroll Gardens are multi-ethnic, working class communities in Brooklyn, New York, fighting to survive as viable neighborhoods. They need strong, articulate grassroots leaders who are able to understand and deal with both local issues and the broader social realities which they reflect. Higher education for leadership requires both a strong liberal arts base and specific training for confidence and skills. The National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW) has developed a two year Associate in Arts degree program to provide locally-based access to higher education for community women in these low and moderate income neighborhoods. Designed primarily for adult women who are neighborhood leaders, the program curriculum focuses on neighborhood issues and concerns in the context of traditional liberal arts courses. Leadership development is emphasized, both in course work and in the process of shared decision-making, advocacy-counseling and peer support through which the program is administered; NCNW's curriculum combines aspects of ethnic studies, women's studies, labor history and community dynamics into an integrated course of study directly related to students' lives. The project is staffed by a combination of professional educators, neighborhood women, students and alumnae of the program plus other volunteers, with neighborhood women taking on an increasing share of the responsibility for both administrative and educational policy and implementation. It is a goal of the program to have it run mainly by its constituents and to maintain a working relationship between professional and neighborhood women. Students, staff and faculty collaborate in curriculum development; regular academic liberal arts courses have an experiential or practical base, generating services, information and products to enhance the life of the person, the family and the neighborhood. It is this last feature, NCNW's experiential base, that this essay will address. One of our original principles was that, since empowerment of women was the primary goal of the Congress, the students should participate as fully as possible in the design and implementation of their learning program. Thus, one component of the program was serving on the committees that constituted, alongwith the staff, the decision-making mechanisms for the congress. It should be noted that this NCNW program is co-sponsored by LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York. Curriculum and faculty are traditionally the province of the academic community and, in fact, the college makes final decisions according to its institutional mandate; student participation in this aspect of their own program design provides a unique opportunity for them to learn how to communicate with college faculty and administrators as peers. This is a valuable kind of learning experience, particularly for working-class and poor people who tend to be mystified by the processes and rationales of institutional decision-making. Working to keep the college program going continues to be a source of solid learning and empowerment for students. Another principle was that the rich life experiences of adult students could provide a practical basis for theoretical learning on several levels--that of the individual woman's personal, perhaps private, relation to the world, her relationship to her family, and her relationship to the larger community. As we developed curricula, we explored those aspects of women's individual lives for practical and theoretical links. In most cases these links were to be found in all three aspects of the students' lives: personal, family and community. Our process was to work with faculty to develop courses combining theory and practice, incorporating women's experiences and concerns. For many students, learning creative expression was important. Art and creative writing courses, inherently experiential, have proved extremely successful. The service component of these courses ensures that art work is shared with the community. Visual art is exhibited at banks, for example, and writing is contributed to local newspapers, the student newsletter, and local radio programs. It is interesting to note that for the NCNW students the world of work is not necessarily where they lack experience. Rather, it is the world of their own creative expression. For example, students in a media arts class produced a half-hour video-tape about the college program, showing changes women and their families had experienced as a result of their going back to school. The students had to master video technology; they also had to learn and apply interviewing techniques and other communication skills. This experiential learning was balanced by theoretical discussions about communications and media. Family relationships and women's role in the family have been a good source for melding theory and practice. Students in a labor and immigration course produced fascinating family histories as their term projects. In another course public schools' values and general attitudes of the staff were contrasted with observations of children and interviews with teachers and children. Students saw this research as work which added a more sophisticated dimension to their roles as family women. Often students elect to do research which has some specific value to them. One woman who was trying to decide which of two schools to send her child to, became an action researcher, interviewed parents, teachers, staff as part of her college work for a course in Social Change and Community Development. Another student, mother of a disabled son, developed recommendations on how the school system could better serve the needs of children with similar handicaps. Another, frustrated by the maze of financial aid forms confronting college students, did an analysis of the socioeconomic context of financial aid and prepared a manual for sister students and their college-age children. Looking toward completing her Associate in Arts degree, one student began organizing community women and negotiating with colleges for a Bachelor of Arts program. In these instances, the specific courses must determine the emphasis--a communications course will emphasize style and form, while a social science course might emphasize methodology or research design. Still, experiential learning is the common base. Because development of women's leadership skills and improvement of community life is a goal of the program, students are provided with many opportunities to use the neighborhood as their laboratory. Sometimes these take the form of internships. For a cooperative education course, students engaged in community work in areas that were new to them, serving, e.g., in a day care center, senior citizens' center, or a program organizing activities for youth. In other cases, students already active in neighborhood activities expanded or altered the scope of their volunteer work into a new experience, requiring mastery of skills such as speech-making, proposal writing or working more sensitively with people. Learning took place in the context of meeting actual neighborhood needs, from the service internships mentioned above to more unusual projects. One student provided a cultural event for the neighborhood by producing and directing a play written by a neighborhood resident and set in her community. Another developed a presentation about breast feeding; her internship involved making this presentation to local women's groups and to school parents' associations. In a course in leadership and community control, students assessed pressing community needs and, working in groups, gathered data around specific issues. They then used this data to develop a program and write a proposal about the needs of youth to be funneled through the local planning board. Other proposals covered issues like, "Wheels for Senior Citizens," and "Scholarships for Students." Community pride was enhanced, and useful information generated, when students researched neighborhood history. One project showed immigration patterns in the neighborhood, its evolving architecture and the contemporary effects of gentrification, calling attention to serious contemporary community problems. This particular history was presented by students at a city-wide neighborhood history conference. Other projects based on historical research dealt with the history of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and its effect on neighborhood life. While all of the courses have some experiential component, a unique pilot program was the Williams-Greenpoint colloquium which tested and synthesized the experiential goals of the college. For this experimental project students put aside theory to participate wholly in the hands-on aspect of their learning. Five workshops were formed, led by a mentor: law, health, oral history, creative writing and video techniques. The law and health groups assessed neighborhood legal and health services from a woman's perspective and designed alternative structures for delivering these services, structures more tuned to people's real needs rather than bureaucratic social service restrictions. The creative writing group shared their experiences in poems and stories. The oral history group researched family and neighborhood history and wrote up their findings. During the two quarters the video group mastered video technology. At the end of the 6-credit, two quarter sequence, a neighborhood history fair was held where women shared their work with community residents while the video team recorded the event. At this point in their college program the students were ready to take what they had learned in their theoretical courses and engage in totally experiential learning as neighborhood advocates. At NCNW we believe that true participation in community life and in the process of planning for the future of neighborhoods has become increasingly difficult and demanding. Our research has indicated that neighborhood women all over the United States want an opportunity for higher education that will enrich and empower them as individuals and as community leaders. Our program is designed to meet these needs. The accomplishments of our alumnae are eloquent testimony both to the need for this type of experiential program and for its effectiveness in providing accessible higher education for community women. RETURNING WOMEN AND FIELD EXPERIENCE: A PRELIMINARY RESEARCH STUDY Sharon Rubin (Information in this paper was originally developed for a presentation at the National Society for Internships and Experiential Education annual meeting, 1979. The author wishes to thank Beverly Greenfeig and Barbara Goldberg of the Returning Students Program, University of Maryland, who participated in the original research.) Volunteer Opportunity: Staff representative trainee with local council of union representing employees in six federal agencies. Opportunity to be involved in all phases of running a union, including organizing, research, arbitration and grievance investigation, congressional hearing attendance. Prefer student in personnel/labor relations, economics, or government and politics, but willing to consider others. Paid Internship: $8.00 per hour to organize and help conserve a collection of documents relating to the first woman president of a large retail corporation. Students in the fields of women's history, cultural history, and business especially encouraged to apply. Cooperative Education Placement: Full-time paid positions fall semester with large federal agency in areas of administration, economics, accounting, chemistry, or computer science. Opportunities for permanent employment after graduation. At the University of Maryland College Park, the Office of Experiential Learning Programs coordinates about 1300 volunteer activities, internships for credit, and cooperative education placements like the ones above. Such opportunities provide an alternative to classroom learning, help students see the ways in which theories have practical applications, and offer low-risk career testing. Over 300 students a semester register for the special internship course numbers available for use by faculty members in any department, and over 500 register for special departmental internship courses as well. Women's studies students generally obtain field placements through our office or through listings that go directly from organizations to the Women's Studies Program office. While some returning women students major in women's studies and participate in women's studies internships, most returning students pursue traditional majors and seek field experience within those majors. Over the past several years, our staff and staff members of the Returning Students Program have become aware that few returning women, of about 1900 on campus, seem to take advantage of field experience opportunities, or even to use the Experiential Learning Programs office as an information resource. In order to determine why a group supposedly more aware than typical eighteen-year-olds of the relationship of education to work and of theory to practice seem so hesitant to participate in a program emphasizing these linkages, we questioned returning and college-age students by questionnaire and informally, we analyzed enrollment data, and we consulted our counterparts on other campuses. What we learned is worth sharing not because it provides easy answers but because it emphasizes the need for those involved with returning women students to ask more sophisticated questions. To find out whether our experiences were comparable to those of experiential educators on other campuses, we developed a questionnaire (Appendix A), which we hoped would distinguish between male and female college-age and returning students and their needs and practices, and which would help enumerate ways of interesting returning women in field experience. The questionnaires were sent to 238 internship coordinators, field experience offices, cooperative education directors, and others involved in experiential learning. The return rate, 21%, was disappointing, but the results of the meager return were illuminating. The level of response and the type of response made us aware that many of our hypotheses were questionable. For instance, we assumed that most internship coordinators could provide statistics on age and sex of interns. Nineteen respondents noted that they do not keep any statistics on the sex or age of student interns, and some even replied that they do not keep any statistics at all on students doing field experience. Ten respondents noted that there were very few returning students at their colleges, but twenty-three returned some information. Of the twenty-three, approximately a third felt that returning students participate in field experience more than traditional college-age students, about a third felt that they participate equally, and about a third suggested that they participate less than college-age students. Almost all respondents admitted that their beliefs were based on anecdotal information and impressions. For instance, one respondent commented that women participate less because they are "charged with rearing children." Another commented that returning students participate more because they have stronger feelings of who they are and where they belong. Another of our hypotheses was that most colleges provide a returning students program like the one on our campus, which includes one-to-one counseling by peer advisors, workshops on a range of subjects from time management to examination skills, and a "College Aims for Returning Women" course which emphasizes career planning, reading and study skills, and multiple role management. Only 18% of the respondents mentioned special programs, ranging from a special advising office to continuing education for displaced homemakers. Our third assumption was that there would be a number of special programs to encourage returning women to participate in internships. Only 20% mentioned any special efforts, mainly orientations or brochures. Finally, we assumed that most administrators who deal with internships, volunteer service-learning, or cooperative education would be aware of the need to think about the special requirements of returning women. However, several coordinators noted, "I've never thought about this before." It seems likely that as experiential educators become more oriented to seeking out and encouraging diverse populations of students rather than serving those who happen to walk in the door, their understanding of returning women and their characteristics will become even more crucial. The less/same as/more split in the perceptions of those who do deal with returning students illustrates this clearly. The "returning woman" is no more certainly a homogeneous category than the "black student" or the "handicapped student." Internship coordinators must ask, "Who are our returning women students, and what do they need?" In an attempt to answer that question for our campus, we first analyzed enrollment data provided by our Data Research Center. The campus is fortunate to have good records and a research unit to make them available to campus offices. The data we collected are for one representative semester, but similar figures exist for others. Of 29,500 undergraduates, 53% are male, 47% are female. In the returning student population, the percentages are just about reversed, with 48% male and 52% female. Despite such reasonably equal percentages of adult learners, returning women are considerably more visible on campus, perhaps because of media attention or because of special campus events for them. Another explanation may be that at College Park, 60% of male returning students are between 26 and 29, while only 35% of returning women are below the age of 30. Understandably, there are slightly more juniors and seniors among the returning student population than among the general college population. Because of the many different options for experiential learning-- campus-wide internship options, departmental internships for majors, practica, fieldwork, and field laboratories, both optional and mandatory--and because volunteer service/learning is not recorded by the registrar at all, it is difficult to accurately assess the number of students involved in experiential learning. However, statistics on both the campus-wide internship courses and on departmental internship courses seem to indicate two things: returning students participate in experiential learning about 25% less than traditional college-age students, and very few returning students do internships before senior year. We questioned students both informally and formally about their views of experiential learning. Most returning women warmly embraced the concept of experiential learning and mentioned that their past experiences had persuaded them of the value of doing additional field work. However, in the "College Aims" course for returning women, our discussions often elicited a set of responses that can best be characterized by the description, "But I'm Not An Expert!" Students, who were mainly in their first semester back in college, were dubious about why anyone would want to offer them an internship or other placement. Over and over, in many different ways, we heard women say, "I'll practice when I'm good enough." Instead of considering experience as a method of learning, they considered experience as practice to perfect knowledge obtained through classes. When our staff explained that organizations were well aware that they were getting motivated but amateur workers, the women refused to see themselves as learner/workers. Perhaps they feared that the expectations of a supervisor would be different when working with an adult student, or perhaps they had grown used to devaluing their own competence. In any case, they continued to express enthusiasm about doing internships sometime in the future when they would feel prepared. The formal questionnaire (Appendix B) did not elicit exactly the same response. 42% of the returning students indicated a willingness to consider participating in field experience immediately or the next semester, while only 30% of the traditional college-age students did. However, returning students did indicate more concern with having enough expertise and confidence than did college-age students. In answering the question, "If I have not and do not plan to participate in field experience, it is because ______," returning students chose the following answers most frequently: "I don't have any information about field experience," "I have never thought about it," "I don't know how to get started," and "I need a job that pays well ," closely followed by, "I don't have enough knowledge and skills in any particular area," "I don't know anyone who has done it," "I don't have any contacts to help me," and "I don't have the time." The answers that we expected to be prevalent, "I need a job that pays well, and "I don't have enough time," were no more popular than any of their other concerns or than those concerns among college-age students . We have no explanation for the discrepancy between the information we received in questionnaires and the information we received by talking with students. However, we did note a high degree of anxiety in returning women who were worried about giving the "right" answer, and that may have led some to respond in a positive way to what they thought we expected. Also, because some of those answering questionnaires were seniors, they did feel more positive about their participation in experiential learning. As I often ask students, what do we know now that we know this? Our research has helped us recognize that returning students as a group are more heterogeneous than we assumed, although on our campus they are, as a group, considerably older than returning male students. We discovered that returning students who have "been around" through volunteer work and paid employment still recognize the value of field experience for themselves in a number of ways, and do not intend to let past experience suffice. We realized that while many students responded positively to a question about intent to immediately participate in field experience, virtually all of them wait until senior year to participate. Finally, we found that although time and money are concerns for returning women, their participation or lack of it depends on a much broader and more complex set of variables, including self-concept . It seems likely, from what we have learned, that our present sponsorship of workshops in conjunction with the "College Aims" course and presentations to the University Returning Students Association are insufficient. We are considering a number of alternatives that might substantially improve our services to returning students. First, we plan to train peer advisors in the Returning Students Program so that they are aware of student uncertainties about experiential learning and can learn techniques for effective counseling. Second, we might develop a "road show" which uses returning students who have done internships to answer the concerns of returning women about learner/worker roles. Finally, we might, in the long range, use the University of Kentucky's Project Ahead as a model (1). Project Ahead combines a one-semester paid internship (with business, government, or the non-profit sector) with academic credit, a leadership and career planning seminar, individualized assistance, ongoing support from other interns, and interaction with community and business leaders. Such a combination of approaches would make good sense developmentally as well as educationally. Whatever our choices, our goals will be to answer the questions of returning women about what field experience is and how to participate, to address returning women on the variety of issues we now know concern them, and to provide programming to move them from the point of intending to participate to using field experience as an alternative style of learning throughout college. By attempting to reach these goals, we will not only serve returning women more effectively but we will, in turn, be learning to serve all our students with more knowledge and consciousness of their needs. NOTES Project Ahead, a University of Kentucky internship program, is designed primarily for women over 25 who have been out of the educational and employment mainstream for several years before returning to college. The program, supported by the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education and administered by the Office for Experiential Education, provides individualized assistance to women in making the transition from education to work. Further information can be obtained from Project Ahead, Ligon House, 658 South Limestone St., University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40506. Appendix A NAME______________________________________TITLE____________________ COLLEGE___________________________________TWO OR FOUR YEAR_________ ADDRESS____________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ DEFINITIONS: For purposes of this questionnaire, a returning student is over 24 years of age and either did not enroll as a college student immediately after high school or did so and dropped out for at least one year before returning to college. Field experience is an off-campus learning experience that is usually unpaid and credited but that may be paid and/or non-credit, as, for example, in the case of cooperative education. 1. What is your male undergraduate enrollment?_____________________ What is your female undergraduate enrollment?___________________ 2. What is your male returning student enrollment?_________________ What is your female returning student enrollment?_______________ 3. What percentage of male returning students attend full-time?_____ What percentage of female returning students attend full-time?___ 4. How many students in all participate in field experience each semester? Males_____________ Females_________________ 5. Do returning male students participate less/as much as/more than traditional college age males in field experience?___________________ Do they participate less/as much as/more than college age females?_______________ Do returning student females participate less/as much as/more than traditional college age females in field experience?____________ Do they participate less/as much as/more than college age males?_____ 6. Do returning male students seem to be particularly interested in a specific type of field experience? If so, please describe: Do returning female students seem to be particularly interested in a specific type of field experience? If so, please describe: 7. Do you have statistics to support your answers to questions 4, 5, and 6? If so, please attach. If not, what is the source of your information? 8. Do you have any possible explanations or suggestions about your answers to questions 5 and 6? 9. Does your school have any special program for returning students? If so, please describe: 10. Does your school have a clearing house or special office that coordinates field experience? Yes___ No___. If no, is it handled by departments? Yes___ No___. If no, how is it coordinated? Please describe: 11. Does your school or office make any special effort to interest returning students in field experience? Yes____No____ through orientations_____workshops______courses________other_________ 12. Is there anything you'd like to share about returning students and their use of field experience? Appendix B We are attempting to find out what students know about field experience, how they feel about it, and how they make use of it, in order to improve our service to you. Please take a few minutes to fill out all four sides of the following questionnaire. Check as many choices in each item as you wish. If you are not sure about some choices, please do not worry; just do the best you can. 1. What is field experience? ___Practical work experience in my major ___Volunteering ___Internship or practicum for credit ___Laboratory accompanying a course ___Visits to work sites ___Clinical training ___Extra-curricular activities such as student organizations or sports ___Career exploration ___Employment ___Teaching assistantship ___Travel ___Experience related to agriculture or farming ___Requirement for my major ___Learning by doing ___Credit for prior work experience ___Cooperative education ___Any class on the College Park campus 2. I have participated in field experience: ___Not at all (PROCEED DIRECTLY TO QUESTION 4 IF THIS IS YOUR CHOICE) ___Once ___Twice ___Three or more times 3. I participated in field experience by: ___Volunteering ___Registering for 386 and 387 ___Registering for another course (please describe)____________________ ___Taking a cooperative education position ___Other (please describe)_____________________________________________ 4. I would consider participating in field experience: ___This semester ___Next semester ___Sometime in the future ___After I graduate ___Not sure ___Not at all (PROCEED DIRECTLY TO QUESTION 6 IF THIS IS YOUR CHOICE) 5. I have chosen the response referred to in Question 4 because: ___I'll have more time ___I'll have more expertise ___I'll have more confidence ___I'll have a better sense of what I want to do ___I'll have a lighter class load or I will have met my major requirements ___I'll be ready ___Other (please describe)___________________________________ IF YOU HAVE ANSWERED QUESTIONS 2,3 AND/OR 5, PROCEED DIRECTLY TO QUESTION 7. 6. If I have not and do not plan to participate in field experience, it is because: ___I don't have the time ___I don't want to use credits on field experience ___I don't have enough knowledge or skills in any particular area ___I don't know how to get started ___I have heard it is difficult to find a faculty member to sponsor my credit ___I have heard it is difficult to find an organization that wants students ___I have heard it is difficult to register ___I need a job that pays well ___I don't know anybody who has done it ___I don't have any contacts to help me pursue a field experience ___I don't have any information about field experience ___I have never thought about it ___Other (please describe)____________________________________ Whatever your answers to the previous questions about your participation, please answer the following questions about whether or not field experience is valuable to you: 7. Field experience is valuable to me because: ___It will look good on my resume ___It relates theory to practice ___It's a good way to try out a field of interest ___It helps me make up my mind about a major ___It helps me get out of the classroom ___It's good to have experience in my field ___It allows me to meet people in my field ___I can get credit for the experience I'm having ___It makes me aware of the different ways people learn ___It helps me organize my time ___It increases my confidence in my ability to work ___It improves the way I work with others ___It expands my world view ___It makes me more competent in my profession ___It teaches me about the concerns of the work world ___It adds meaning to my classroom experience ___It expands my vocabulary ___Other (please describe)__________________________________ 8. Field experience is not valuable to me because: ___It takes too much time ___It is no help to me in getting a job ___Credit for classroom learning is more legitimate ___Employers don't care about student work experience ___It's not a good way to learn ___It doesn't pay a salary ___I don't plan to seek employment ___Other (please describe)__________________________________ 9. My status is: ___Freshman ___Sophomore ___Junior ___Senior ___Special student ___Graduate student 10. I have been a student at the College Park campus for: ___one semester or less ___two semesters ___three semesters ___four or more semesters 11. My major is: ___undecided ___list major_______________ 12. My age is: ___below 18 ___18 ___19 ___20 ___21 ___22 ___23-25 ___26-30 ___31-35 ___36-40 ___over 40 If you would like the results of this questionnaire, or more information about field experience, please fill in the following: Name_______________________________________________________________ Address____________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________Zip Code____________ Or, stop by Experiential Learning Programs, 0119 Undergraduate Library, 454-4767. Thank you for your help! THE CONGRESSIONAL INTERNSHIPS ON WOMEN AND PUBLIC POLICY Phyllis M. Palmer In September, 1980, a research task force of eleven graduate interns began work for the Congresswomen's Caucus: sponsored by women members of Congress, placed in offices and on committee staffs under their aegis members and that of their male Congressional allies, and supervised academically by the Women's Studies Program and Policy Center at the George Washington University. The Congressional Internships on Women and Public Policy are funded by a grant to the Women's Studies Program from the Charles H. Revson Foundation. Each legislative intern receives a stipend of $8,000.00 for the academic year. This legislative internship program is the culmination of a three-year discussion about the structure and goals of GWU's graduate program in women's studies. When I came to Washington, D. C., to become academic coordinator of the program in 1977, intent on applying theories and ideas developed teaching women's history at Mount Holyoke College, I very quickly learned I was ignorant about contemporary women's political efforts and that I was naive about the world of lobbying, trading legislative favors, tracking federal legislation through adoption and appropriation processes, and commenting on the administrative regulations needed to implement legislation. My need for practical knowledge of federal policy making was highlighted by contrast with the political expertise of two colleagues who had also just joined the program, hopeful of developing an academic base there for women's movement activists. Virginia Allan, a former chair of the 1970 President's Commission on the Status of Women and advocate for the National Women's Conference in Houston, wanted to see academic work that was pertinent to the lobbying efforts and publicity needs of women's groups; Charlotte Conable, an alumna of the Women's Studies Program and wife of an influential Republican Congressman, sought to make the academic program more responsive to the political issues she saw raised in Congress. As we three discussed skills women need to function effectively as lobbyists, office-holders and political activists, I began to see how thoroughly academic feminists can avoid issues of power and legislative persuasion, and how completely activists can ignore feminist research and theory. Another impetus to the shaping of our legislative internship program was the need of a graduate program in women's studies to provide professional skills and competencies that would be recognized by potential employers of our graduates. The GWU Program had been giving academic credit for 1OO-hour a semester internships (practica) since its inception in 1973, with students placed in a variety of settings serving women. The record of alumnae employment indicated that most students found post-graduation jobs through the internship placement: the internship allowed students to do a project pertinent to the needs of a sponsoring organization, and thus to demonstrate the practical adaptability of training in women's studies. Internships also made students a known quantity, persons recognized as reliable by those who might offer jobs in the future; students were assured that they would know and be known by some employers. Given our location in Washington, and our interest in training students who could be effective advocates and analysts of federal policies, the idea of placing interns in legislative offices in a structured fashion was a natural outgrowth of previous internship activities. A final concern, and one that became most salient in our subsequent planning, was the provision of financial assistance to students for the period of their internship. In order to have an integrated training program that allowed substantial time to learn the legislative process and to critique and analyze its results, more than the 100 hours per semester allotted to the practicum course would be required. Graduate students, many of whom support themselves and children, could not take a prolonged internship away from their half- and full-time jobs. Both the responsibilities of our adult students and the intellectual requirements of integrating academic and political work necessitated finding financial support for interns. Further, it seemed to me, Women's Studies could never produce theoretically sophisticated and politically astute graduates until we could provide students with time and freedom to think leisurely and systematically. We may not be able to give women a life-time annuity, as Virginia Woolf had advocated, but we might be able to give them a one-year stipend. The desire for funding led us into a series of negotiations with various institutions and between various institutional interests. We had to locate potential funding sources; we had to find a non-partisan medium through which to guarantee that funders were not directly supporting partisan legislators, and we had to assure the sponsoring university that its students would be doing work deserving academic credit. Fortunately, the Congresswomen's Caucus, the coalition of women members of Congress, had just created a non-profit research entity, the Women's Research and Education Institute (WREI). The Institute was looking for research assistance for itself and for the women members. Together, we began to negotiate with the women members to determine how we could place students in congressional offices under the joint auspices of the Women's Studies Program and the Institute, and how we could provide guarantees that the students would develop research useful to the Congresswomen without, at the same time, becoming involved with partisan, political election issues. The Congresswomen's Caucus proved amenable to our needs. It agreed to provide office space and supervision for students, who would not be expected to do political campaign work, but would be expected to organize their research around the substantive interests and legislative concerns of the office. The students' function would be to enhance the members' and committees' knowledge about women's issues, to be a "surplus benefit" to the office, rather than just extra staff. They were to work at least 30 hours per week, since any smaller commitment could not reimburse the office for the space and supervisory time it was contributing. Even the Caucus, established in 1977, suffers the classic women's group problem: little money and shortage of staff. With only 17 women in that Congress, their resources had to be used for constituent interests as well as in support of research and action on women's issues. Once we had agreed on the form of congressional placements, we turned to the university's interests. The pertinent administrators set two requirements to ensure that students would not be performing partisan work and that they would deserve academic credit for the work performed: all students accepted into the internship had to be degree candidates, and their work had to be evaluated by an interdisciplinary committee able to review an array of projects and topics. The guarantor for academic merit became the Women's Studies Steering Committee, and I was given released time to meet with students in a weekly seminar. With all these negotiations completed, we went back to our potential funders, mainly larger foundations. Our primary funder became the Charles H. Revson Foundation, whose president, Eli N. Evans, a former program officer at the Carnegie Foundation, had had a great deal of experience with intern and student development projects for Southern Blacks during the 1960's and early '70's. Evans had persuaded the Revson board to adopt, as one of its principal goals, the development of women in leadership roles, and he helped us conceptualize more clearly the goals of our internship: to develop a "hybrid" who could move comfortably and confidently between the research and legislative realms, and to encourage women to think systematically as they are acting in legislative arenas. Evans also encouraged us to think about the internships a long-term project. With initial funding from Revson to support us through academic year 1982-83, we anticipate that we will be able to build a reputation for solid work; the benefits of the program thus demonstrated, we should be better able to attract small chunks of support from corporate donors and foundations that have shown willingness to support training programs for women but are unlikely to make the large commitment necessary to start and test a major program. Our next, and most pleasant task, was to select the first interns. Two considerations directed our selection. First, we had to balance the substantive interests of the Congresswomen with the interests of the graduate students. Congresswomen were polled, and gave us a list of "timely" topics they wanted researched for 1980-81; these included women and credit, women and social security, women and pensions, women and health care, women in the military, occupational hazards and safety, and women and the federal budget. We then sought students in appropriate fields: women's studies, economics, sociology, health care, psychology and public administration. Applicants completed a standard form, indicating academic background, interests, and competence in writing and research. The second important consideration, from our perspective, was that students have some demonstrated interest in women's issues, interest in political activities, and tolerance for the exigencies of being an elected official. We interviewed applicants, and talked with them about their assessment of the political value of research they had done. We looked both for feminist understanding of social organization and a flexible approach to political bargaining: a major concern of the congressional offices was that the interns not be ideologues unable to understand that Congresswomen must sometimes represent their constituents' desires rather than their own, and that an opponent on one issue can be a friend on another. Students selected for the first group of internships reflected our concern for a balance of research ability with personal maturity. Most are in their late twenties; one is in her mid-forties. Two are raising children, and all have worked at full time jobs along with graduate study. Many have political experience (working for Common Cause, NOW, in battered women's shelters and rape crisis centers); one has finished law school, and another is in her third year. These interns began meeting together in mid-July 1980, to learn about the legislative and administrative organization of the Congress before beginning work in their assigned offices in September. Their five-week course on "Women and Public Policy" was directed by a specially appointed faculty member with both academic experience in women's studies and political experience working on social security reform at the Department of Health and Social Services. The interns will continue to meet weekly throughout the year in a 3 credit intern policy seminar. The weekly seminar is designed to provide essential cohort support for the interns, protecting them from becoming wrapped up in the intense electioneering atmosphere of many of their offices, and to magnify their concentration and the effectiveness of their feminist research by enabling them to share resources, insights and analyses. It will also enable interns to meet with leaders of women's political organizations to exchange information gleaned from and about the federal system and to learn about the work of these groups that support legislation and critique regulations. By the end of the academic year, students should have completed papers and projects (such as organizing hearings) that entitle them to 12 hours of research credit in women's studies and related disciplines. Their assignments are to include two research projects: a review of research/administrative action on some long-term topic of interest, and legislative monitoring and review of a current piece of legislation. As much as possible, students' hours in their offices will have been devoted to their research assignments, but they will also have been called upon to give briefings, write speeches and answer constituent mail. It is not easy to put together political exigencies and academic requirements. There are undoubtedly many problems remaining to be solved as the internship project unfolds, but such efforts are one embodiment of what feminists and women's studies theorists have always advocated: the application of systematic intelligence to the process of social change. We hope that the alliance between the GWU Women's Studies Program and the Women's Research and Education Institute of the Congresswomen's Caucus will be a model for other such alliances, between women's studies programs and feminist legislators in state and municipal government across the country. AN INTERNSHIP IN SCIENCE, POLITICS AND FEMINISM I. DESCRIPTION OF A PILOT PROJECT M. Sue Wagner and Alwynelle S. Ahl Politics, particularly legislative action, has long been of concern to feminists. In recent years, some of the most controversial political issues have been those affecting women. Many of these issues have dealt with the role of biology in the lives of women, particularly concerns about reproductive health. The pilot project described here was designed as an attempt to provide a research resource to those in politics and government concerned with feminist issues, to provide women's studies students an opportunity to learn more about the legislative process first-hand, and to expose students to the potential for careers with state and local governments. In order to have good laws there must be a background of reliable and current information with which to develop legislation. Recognizing the increasing importance of biological knowledge to legislation being drafted in Michigan, the NOW (National Organization for Women) legislative liaison sought to develop a resource base of scientific information pertinent to present political issues. In order to accomplish this goal, the NOW lobbyist sought help from several faculty members in the Department of Natural Science at Michigan State University. The result of this collaboration was an independent study internship program titled "Issues of Science and Society, Science and Politics." In the fall of 1979, women's studies students at MSU were given an opportunity to participate in this program. In the pilot project, selected students worked with a supervising professor from the Department of Natural Science and the liaison lobbyist for Michigan NOW. Students worked on political problems involving a substantial scientific component, usually a topic concerning women's health. The research done by the students and faculty was useful to NOW and to some legislators in a variety of ways. It provided background information for pending legislation, defined and clarified biological and medical terminology, provided data which could be used for legislative floor debate, provided background information and recommendation for future legislation, and provided an historical framework regarding issues in politics and women's health. In each case the student worked closely with a faculty advisor, the NOW representative, and in certain instances with members of the legislature. Students earned from two to four (quarter) credit hours of independent study which was applicable to their Women's Thematic Program, toward elective credit, or as science credit. The projects were varied. One student defined the diseases which could endanger a woman's health during pregnancy. This information was used to write amendments to a bill which seeks to prohibit Medicaid funding for abortions unless the life of the woman is endangered. Another student researched the history of the anti-abortion movement in America and its relation to the nineteenth century professionalization of medicine. Another student studied the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs on women, especially pregnant women. Then, based on her research she made recommendations for possible legislative action. Another student did research on the impact of lead poisoning in the workplace. Particularly examined were the levels of lead in the workplace that affect fertility. He suggested legislation which would improve such hazardous working conditions. There were benefits from this program for students, for NOW, for participating faculty, and for legislators. The students learned about the political process as involved participants rather than as observers. They learned to translate the results of scientific studies into information necessary for legislative action. The students' viewpoint on science and the legislative process was considerably broadened. In the process students learned how the work of scientists affects society. In addition the experience pointed out potential employment opportunities. In fact one student is now working for a legislator met in the course of this internship. Another student is now working for the county agency in which the intern research was done last term. The information provided by student and faculty research is a new resource available to legislators. Furthermore, the growing data base permits Michigan NOW to do background work for new legislation as opposed to merely reacting to it. A potential result is that feminists can become an integral part of the inner workings of the legislature rather than only an outside pressure group. The benfits for faculty included close work with superior students in supervised independent study. It was gratifying to watch students develop an appreciation for the practical uses of seemingly abstract scientific ideas. Several of the papers completed to date are being jointly published by the student and faculty member. The internship program has been offered again during winter term of 1980, and the fall term of 1980-81. Following that semester a complete evaluation of the program will be undertaken, a decision made as to whether the program should be enlarged and how administrative details will be handled, etc. At this point the program seems to have a number of benefits for all involved, but it is a time-consuming administrative chore for certain faculty. It is possible that this internship will be incorporated formally into the Women's Studies Program at MSU, expanding to include faculty from the social sciences as well as the natural sciences. This would broaden the scope of research undertaken and thus the resource base available to legislators. State legislatures, city councils and county commissions are increasingly called upon to make laws regarding our biology and our health. They often do not have staffs with sufficient expertise to address these questions as carefully as they should be addressed. Thus, for legislators, this program provides a means of tapping scientific expertise in order to improve the quality of legislation; it provides students with practical experience with science and politics and feminism; it provides NOW with a valuable database for present and future activity. We consider that the initial trial of the project has been a success. II. A STUDENT PERSPECTIVE Amy N. Moss In September of 1979 I enrolled in a one-term Internship (independent study in the Department of Natural Science) in Science, Politics, and Feminism. Initially I enrolled because the course fulfilled a natural science requirement and counted toward my Women's Studies Thematic Program at Michigan State University (MSU). In this internship I worked with a faculty member (Alwynelle Ahl), the Michigan NOW lobbyist (Sue Wagner), and a member of the state legislature (Senator Doug Ross, D-Oakland). My chosen assignment was to research how some specific diseases or conditions in pregnancy affect women's present and future health. In particular I worked on Senate Bill 157, which reads as follows "...An abortion shall not be a service provided to a recipient of medical assistance under this act except if the abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother." The latter part of this statement was to be my primary concern. What health conditions pre-existing before pregnancy pose special health hazards in pregnancy? It was important that these facts be added as amendments to this Bill to prolong deliberation on it, to diminish its impact on poor women, or to cause the Bill to be withdrawn or killed. Pregnancy always poses some threat to a woman's health and life. Certain pre-existing diseases, such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia, increase the risk of pregnancy for a woman. With excellent medical care, that threat can be minimized. However, for women who have not had excellent medical care before conception or who do not have excellent care during pregnancy, the threat is greater. My task was to research specific health conditions (some 20 of them) in which abortions might be necessary to save the life of the woman. The research was made into a packet of amendments that could be used against this Bill and against similar legislation in other parts of the country. Medical texts and journals from the MSU science library provided my basic information. In weekly meetings with my professor we reviewed the material collected for each disease or condition. I also maintained contact with the Michigan NOW lobbyist who was responsible for arranging the political end of the internship. Senator Doug Ross and his staff director, Robert O'Leary, directed my work at the legislature. They kept me apprised of where the Bill stood, and made sure I was writing the amendments properly. The outcomes of this project were all positive for me. Most of all, it was satisfying to see my work used. Of all the papers I have written for college credit, this was by far the most meaningful. When I enrolled in this internship, I was a disillusioned psychology major, and had recently added social work as a second major. I had been disappointed with the psychology courses at MSU and I hoped the social work courses would be more applicable to real life. My desire was to work on a one-to-one basis with people, perhaps as a feminist-therapist. However, I was really without a definite career goal when I began this internship. Several very important things happened to me as a result of my work in this internship. The first was that I grew more confident of myself as a writer and researcher. It meant a great deal to me that my material would be used by professionals in the political arena and as a starting point for further research by my professor. What was especially significant about the uses of my work in the political arena was that it coincided so completely with my own feminist political beliefs. Had I researched the same material for a traditional science course as a term paper, the information probably would have never gotten any further than the professor's desk, my personal satisfaction no further than a grade. Because the information being researched was needed for policy development purposes, and because I was working with legislative policy makers, my research was much more valuable to me. Out of this experience came a much greater understanding of the political process. I had never realized before how much a legislator must trust the members of his/her staff to provide them with adequate information. I learned very quickly that it would be impossible for a lawmaker to know all the facts about every issue that comes up; his or her staff is invaluable in providing facts about key issues, and thus, in contributing to political decisions. Since last fall, I have changed my major and developed a career goal; it is apparent that the internship experience influenced these choices. Before the internship, my knowledge of policy makers and administrators was so limited that I had not considered a career in public policy. I had never met a female policy maker, but I had met and admired several female counselors or therapists. So in a way, I was scared away from even considering a non-traditional career because of my ignorance, my lack of female role models, and my lack of confidence in my own abilities. It took me a while to realize that I had drifted into my majors probably because I was female, a difficult thing to admit for someone who prides herself on awareness of sexism. This internship has helped me see that there is a need for female decision makers in the political process, and that I would like my "place" in the whole scheme of things to be in the decision-making area rather than in the distributive area as a social worker or therapist. Perhaps I would be good as a therapist or a social worker, but my ability to influence others would be limited to a relatively few clients. My wish now is to have a career in which I can achieve more power, status and influence. My reasons for wanting this are not totally selfish ones: if more women achieve power positions in government and industry, there is some hope that major changes can be made regarding policies that affect women. If we don't do for ourselves no one will do for us! STUDENT INTERNSHIP IN ISSUES OF SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, SCIENCE AND POLITICS Students selected will work with a supervising professor and an individual in state politics. In this pilot project, the political liaison will be the registered lobbyist for NOW (National Organization for Women). Students will plan and organize their independent study projects with these two supervisors. Topics for research are wide and varied with opportunity for students to work on projects close to their own personal interests. Some suggested topics are listed below. ABORTION THERAPEUTIC ABORTION DES AND DRUGS IN PREGNANCY STERILITY CONTRACEPTION SCIENCE TEXTBOOKS ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS IN PREGNANCY FERTILITY AND PRE-CONCEPTION HEALTH FERTILITY AND PRE-CONCEPTION HEALTH RISK OF MORTALITY IN PREGNANCY EDUCATION AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH For Fall 1979 and Winter 1980, we would like to have some interns who are interested in researching guidelines for maternal health in pregnancy as related to therapeutic abortion. Students chosen for this Internship may earn up to 4 credits in Natural Science 300 for each term of participation (total credits in NS300 must not exceed 12). MICHIGAN NOW National Organization for Women .....NOW's purpose is to take action to bring women into full porticipation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men. CODE OF CONFIDENTIALITY As an intern for the National Organization for Women (NOW),I understand that I will have certain responsibilities which may expose me to situations where I will hear information about public officials which should not be revealed. Furthermore, this signed statement means that I also understand the importance of confidentiality of political strategies of NOW and legislators who advocate NOW's political positions. I am, however, free to discuss my project with others so long as it has no long or short term negative ramifications for NOW. Therefore, this statement is to assure NOW that I understand the importance of my position and that I represent NOW; I then agree not to disclose any information which I might hear about someone in either the political or personal domain. SIGNED:_______________________________ DATE: FEMINIST LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES IN EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION Ann Simon For over fifty years Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, has required a field experience program of cooperative education for all students in this small, private liberal arts college. Antioch students alternate quarters of study on campus with quarters of full time paid employment or equivalent activity off-campus throughout the United States. To meet requirements for graduation they must complete at least six different field placements. The coop program is integral to the Antioch curriculum; some work experiences are considered essential to the students' general education, while others serve as part of their preparation in a major academic field. In addition, the coop program is seen as an opportunity for students to seek first-hand experience in deciding on a course of study and in preparing for post-graduation employment or graduate school. Each quarter, coop students are placed on one of several hundred jobs regularly available through the Center for Cooperative Education; placements are based on students' preferences, an assessment of their skills, coursework and previous experience. Before leaving campus for the field placement, students determine their learning objectives with a member of the coop faculty. When they complete their fieldwork, they are evaluated by the employer; students also write a description of their work, produce a paper or project documenting and evaluating what they learned, and have a final conference with their coop advisor to discuss the extent to which their educational objectives were achieved. Credit is awarded on the basis of documented learning as well as responsible and successful performance on the job. Within the context of this program, there are three major areas in which I have sought to create feminist learning experiences: encouraging women undergraduates to approach their own lives with a feminist perspective as they make decisions about their futures; making available placements with organizations working on feminist issues; assisting students to utilize tools of feminist observation and analysis in a variety of job settings. Similar efforts could be made in many different types of experiential education programs whose on-going responsibility is to arrange off-campus learning experiences, such as a coop or service learning program on campus, a department of experience-based education, a public policy internship program, pre-professional training opportunities (student teaching, social work practica, internships in the ministry, law, nursing, etc.), an urban semester program, an off-campus project during a winter term or even summer employment arranged for credit independently by students. Here we may find experiential educators and placement professionals whose interest in feminism motivates them to design special opportunities within existing programs to meet the specific needs of women's studies students. Feminist Life/Career Planning Field placement professionals--explicitly or implicitly--help students make decisions about their future life work through direct experience in preparation for a specific career. With feminist consciousness-raising in mind, I have identified the following assumptions or expectations (geared primarily to this 18-21 year-old college population) that I encourage each student to make about herself. I view these assumptions as a statement of what each woman fundamentally deserves, a starting point from which she can then deal with race, class and/or sex barriers she may encounter. 1. She will have an adult work life of forty years or more. 2. She can spend her years of employment at work she chooses. 3. In selecting a direction for her life work, she begins with the belief that she is competent, and takes into consideration all possible options open to her. She is careful to sort out her own interests from expectations that other people may have for her. She has the right to determine what she wants, and to take appropriate action to achieve it. She is free to take risks, and she may change her mind. 4. She will be able to support herself by her labor, and to support other people--adults and children--whom she may choose to include in her life. 5. She can live where her work and interests take her. I usually present these assumptions to students in the context of individual conversation in my office, while discussing how the coop program works, what a student learned during a recent field placement, what job to select for the next coop quarter, what she intends to major in, and what she'll do when she graduates. Women's studies faculty can also raise these same issues in individual conversation with advisees as well as in the classroom. When I present these expectations to students I am careful never to make sex-stereotyped assumptions, such as encouraging a young woman to work as a teacher's aide because she lists child care experience on her resume (perhaps the only money-making option she was able to pursue before entering college), or assuming that a woman who says she's interested in science means biology or botany rather than graduate work in astrophysics. I also point out to a student any stereotyped assumptions she may be making about herself, and urge her to broaden her perspective. For example, a student may have the impulse to withdraw from candidacy for her preferred field placement if she learns that an acquaintance wants the same job, saying she is sure the other person is better qualified. I suggest that she may not be giving herself credit for the ability she has, noting that women habitually underrate our skills and even apologize for our achievements by attributing them to good fortune. In this case I present her with evidence of her competence from my knowledge of her previous work or from employer ratings in her file. I also discuss her desire to avoid competition, noting how women are taught that it's "too selfish" to give more importance to our own wishes than to those of a friend and it's "too pushy" to stick up for what we want. I submit that it might be a positive experience to"practice" competing with a student she knows, even if the other person does get the job. The assumption that adult women can take charge of their lives can be very powerful. At times--even on the Antioch campus where feminist values are part of the dominant campus climate--students find it difficult or conflict-producing (as well as thrilling and intoxicating) to fully internalize and act upon this premise. As feminist educators, we can help students think about life/career issues to sort out and deal with their changing values, doubts and conflicts, as well as their growing confidence. Feminist Work Experiential learning programs can utilize existing resources to create feminist field placements. My definition of feminist field work includes any field experience with an organization that addresses women's issues and works to further feminist aims. Organizations where feminist field placements are possible can be described or categorized in several ways: according to the kind of work they do, the issues or clientele they address, their long-range goals, and their organizational structure. The following impressionistic continuum of the field experiences available to Antioch students over the past several years, takes into account a combination of these factors. Radical Feminist Organizations: characterized by an effort to create a non-hierarchic organizational structure, collective decision-making process, shared responsibility for routine tasks; also the commitment to working for fundamental change in the life experience of women while building new, all-women, feminist structures. Students have worked in the following settings of this nature: feminist counseling collective (Georgia); women's land (Oregon); feminist theater (D.C.); shelter for battered women (Florida); women's health center (California); and lesbian resort community (Florida). Organization With Explicit Feminist Goals: characterized by a commitment to working for fundamental change in the life experience of women, maintaining a moderate or minimum degree of hierarchy in staff structure and decision-making. Students have worked with many groups that fall into this category: rape crisis center (Georgia), feminist-oriented monthly newspaper (Texas), projects organizing women office, factory, domestic workers (Massachusetts, North Carolina), and various women's rights activities including ERA campaign (Illinois), monitoring vocational education legislation compliance (Georgia), providing hot-line information service about Title IX regulations regarding athletics (D.C.). Women's Issue Organizations: characterized by a concern for improving conditions and opportunities for women, with traditional hierarchic organizational structure. Feminist goals may be achieved through some of the efforts of such organizations, while such goals may or may not be their central focus. In this grouping, students have been assigned to a city government commission on the status of women (Georgia), a project for increasing access of women to management-level corporate jobs (Georgia), a recreation program for women prisoners (Michigan), and a home for pregnant teenagers (California); an assignment in an affirmative action office of a university, business or government agency would also fall into this grouping. It is interesting to note that in some instances, the type or content of the work has little bearing on the organization's place on the continuum. I have had contacts with different battered women's shelters, for example, which fit into each of the three categories--according to their organizational structure, their stated purpose, and their analysis of the problem they are working on or the services they offer. While organizations which fall anywhere on the continuum can offer students an opportunity to do feminist work, there is a unique learning opportunity available at placements in "radical feminist" settings. Here a student may also observe and participate in the process established by organizations whose structure is a non-hierarchical alternative to the "mainstream" projects or groups she's likely to participate in more frequently throughout her life. Feminist Perspective in a Non-Feminist Setting Because of my involvement in a campus-wide experiential education program which sends every student on six or more different field placements, I have given considerable thought and attention to the experience of feminist students who inevitably spend some of their coop quarters in entirely non-feminist settings. From my work with these students, I have concluded that field experiences which do not provide opportunities for feminist work can nevertheless serve as important sources for feminist education. Women's studies students can learn a great deal by applying tools of feminist observation and analysis to virtually any placement setting. I have developed several approaches to feminist learning in a non-feminist setting: analysis of sexism at the workplace and in the community, practice at implementing feminist change, and individual personal growth in feminist directions. I find that students can best take advantage of these suggestions if they have already had one or more women's studies courses--preferably at least one in the social sciences--and if they have been involved in some campus feminist activity, such as a consciousness-raising group or feminist organizing project. Analysis: At the worksite, students observe job categories among their co-workers, by whom (according to race, sex, class, age) they are filled and what the job descriptions are for each category. They can analyze how and by whom leadership is exerted, both formally and informally. They can examine sexism manifested in the social interactions among the workers as well as with clientele (students, customers, patients, clients, etc.). Next, students can look at the organization as a whole: the research institution or corporation, the library or museum, the factory, the hospital. They can investigate practices of hiring and promotion, examine methods of decision-making and who are the decision-makers. They can analyze what segments of the community the organization serves, and what, if any, discriminatory messages community members receive in their contact with the organization. Finally, students can observe the quality of life for women in the community where they are working and/or living, the availability of child care or women's health care, the safety measures needed and provided for women, and the resources available for women who have been beaten or raped. They can determine the degree to which the experiences and needs of women are reported in the local media, and consider the ways in which concerns of women are addressed through the elected political process. Practice: Students may also approach a field experience with the intention of implementing feminist goals in conjunction with the placement. They can prepare to try out non-sexist teaching methods and curriculum in a day care center, a high school, the waiting room of a pediatric hospital, or in an outdoor education center. They can develop theories and techniques for feminist counseling to apply in a counseling center, a welfare office or a residence for disturbed adolescents. They can plan to set up a consciousness- raising group among the women workers at a factory, the women graduate research assistants, or the teenagers who hang out at the community center after school. They might become a member of a committee setting up affirmative action guidelines for the organization or assisting with recruitment efforts. They might provide resources and impetus for employees of a corporation or factory to organize a day care center. Personal Growth: Students may want to devote time to their personal development during their field placement, either in association with the placement itself or during their hours after work. They might focus on practicing assertiveness skills with an aggressive supervisor or with co-workers. They can seek out opportunities on the job to learn new skills in areas usually considered "non-traditional" for women, such as carpentry, mechanical repair, budget design or procedures for running a board meeting. Students can also utilize a non-feminist placement, perhaps in comparison with a previous experience in a radical feminist organization, to help make decisions about how to approach their life work as feminists. In a non-feminist setting students may find themselves identified as the "company feminist" and can document their feelings and behaviors in response to representing, sometimes solely, that position. Conclusion My goal in this review of experiential opportunities for women's studies students in field placements outside the women's studies program has been several-fold. First to suggest to feminist experiential educators and placement professionals ways to address within their programs the needs of women's studies students. Second, to suggest to women's studies faculty ways to utilize the resources of existing field placement programs on their campuses to augment opportunities for their students to have feminist field experiences. Third, to show how field placements in non-feminist settings can yield opportunities for feminist learning and, in some cases, for implementing feminist social change. And finally, to suggest how experiential educators and women's studies faculty can expose students to principles of feminist life-planning--an issue which I consider essential to feminist education. I believe that the notion of a feminist field experience is absolutely consistent with the vision of a feminist academy. Nothing could be more appropriate for feminist students than learning about the experience of women by living and observing women's experiences in the workplace and by joining forces with community women to work on feminist issues affecting the quality of women's lives on and off campus.