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Key Out-of-Class Experiences


Internships provide students with direct experience in a work setting - usually related to their career interests - and give them the benefit of supervision and coaching from professionals in the field. If the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member.

Internships are wonderful for a variety of reasons. Not only do interns gain valuable workplace experience, they are also able to explore an industry, get exposed to organizational culture, and build a professional network.  The Vanderbilt Career Center offers guidance and support for students who are looking for an internship experience.

Learning Communities

The key goals for learning communities are to encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students with "big questions" that matter beyond the classroom. Many learning communities explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lenses of different disciplines.


Vanderbilt's Living Learning Communities (LLCs)

LLCs provide opportunities for students with similar educational interests to live together in residence halls offering structured learning environments. The Office of Housing and Residential Education sponsors many of these communities with the support of various academic departments and faculty members. There are also LLCs sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, Leadership Development & Intercultural Affairs, and the Office of Arts & Creative Engagement.

The fundamental premise of the Vanderbilt living learning experience is that the residence hall is an important part of the total education of its participants. Exposure to educational themes outside the classroom allows students to take ownership of their living and learning at Vanderbilt.  We also expect that the additional interaction with faculty outside the classroom will expand the students' comfort with building relationships with their own professors and instructors. Students who live together and focus around common intellectual purpose have better opportunities to reinforce their academic goals.

Undergraduate Research

Many colleges and universities are now providing research experiences for students in all disciplines. Undergraduate research, however, has been most prominently used in science disciplines. With strong support from the National Science Foundation and the research community, scientists are reshaping their courses to connect key concepts and questions with students' early and active involvement in systematic investigation and research. The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.

Numerous research opportunities and external programs are open to Vanderbilt students who seek greater engagement in their academic program of study. Please click here to learn more.

Collaborative Projects

Collaborative learning combines two key goals: learning to work and solve problems in the company of others, and sharpening one's own understanding by listening seriously to the insights of others, especially those with different backgrounds and life experiences. Approaches range from study groups within a course, to team-based assignments and writing, to cooperative projects and research.

Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a student-run community service organization whose mission is to promote critical thinking, social action, and continued community involvement by combining education, reflection, and direct service on the local, regional, national, and international levels.  Each ASB is project-based and also incorporates three distinctive features: 1) off-campus experience, 2) a large percentage of non-Vanderbilt student participants, and 3) post-ASB reflection.

Kissam Learning Initiatives in Collaborative Knowledge Projects

A KLICK is a "Inquiry Driven" learning project characterized as a structured exploration of a student-defined question that seeks to produce knowledge and action. Students design and complete their KLICK with the support of a faculty, staff, or alumni KLICK mentor who provides guidance, expertise and access to resources.  As students work collectively on their KLICK, they develop professional skills and relationships such as project management, oral and written communication, resource identification and leveraging, and networking with institutional personnel.  The production of "community knowledge and action" is a hallmark of a KLICK, students therefore create, package and disseminate the knowledge that they gained from the project and share it with campus and community stakeholders.

Living Learning Communities

Vanderbilt's LLCs provide opportunities for students with similar educational interests to live together in residence halls offering structured learning environments.  Each of the seven LLCs integrates collaborative projects into the living-learning experience.  Some LLCs are completely project based while others integrate collaborative projects as one component of several learning experiences.

Diversity/Global Learning

Many colleges and universities now emphasize courses and programs that help students explore cultures, life experiences, and worldviews different from their own. These studies - which may address U.S. diversity, world cultures, or both - often explore "difficult differences" such as racial, ethnic, and gender inequality, or continuing struggles around the globe for human rights, freedom, and power. Frequently, intercultural studies are augmented by experiential learning in the community and/or by study abroad.

Office of Global Education

From the Global Education Office website you can find and apply for more than 100 study abroad programs and scholarships, including Vanderbilt's innovative VISAGE program. There is also plenty of information on the process of applying and studying abroad, for students, parents, and faculty.

Michael B. Keegan Travel Fellow

The Michael B. Keegan Fellowship enhances the development of future leaders through world travel and experiential learning. The program is designed to allow a graduating senior the opportunity to pursue an idea or an issue, about which the student is impassioned, and to do so in the context of daily life in a global scenario.

The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center (BCC)

The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center (BJJBCC) provides educational and cultural programming on the African and African American experience for the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities. One of the Center's aims is to foster an understanding of the values and cultural heritage of people of African descent worldwide. In this regard, the Center serves as a resource for information on African and African-American life and culture. Symposia, lectures, musical performances, art exhibitions, audiovisual materials, and publications on the African and African American experience provide a broad spectrum of activities for the University and the general public.  One additional goal of the Center is community outreach and service. To this end, the Center sponsors a Community Speakers Series designed to bring community leaders to campus for talks and forums. The Center reaches out to civic and cultural groups and works cooperatively with them. The BJJBCC also provides space for tutoring sessions and mentoring activities for young people from the Nashville Public Schools and other institutions, such as the YMCA.

Vanderbilt Hillel

Vanderbilt Hillel is the center of Jewish life at Vanderbilt, serving the religious, social, and educational needs of the undergraduate and graduate Jewish student communities. The Vanderbilt Hillel prides itself in offering Jewish college students different ways to express their Jewishness such as through creative holiday programs and cultural events. Students are empowered to take responsibility for their Jewish identity.

Dean of Students Office of Leadership Development and Intercultural Affairs

LDIA provides resources, advocacy, and programs to develop students as global leaders in a diverse society.

Dean of Students Office of International Students & Scholars Services

ISSS supports an environment conducive to international education and intercultural awareness via educational, social, and cross cultural programs.

Dean of Students Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex Life

The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at Vanderbilt University is a cultural center and a place of affirmation for individuals of all identities, and a resource for information and support about gender and sexuality.

Dean of Students Office of Religious Life

Religious Life seeks to function in an educational capacity, not only for those students and groups who are traditionally religious, but by way of raising ethical questions and issues of value and character among the student body at large. Because we seek to educate the "whole person", we view ethical and spiritual formation as integral to the University's overall educational mission and religious life as an important dimension of the so-called hidden curriculum of the University. Therefore we seek to integrate the programs and services offered by the chaplains and professional staff into the larger life of the University community.

Dean of Students Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center

The Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center leads co-curricular campus initiatives related to women's and gender issues, creating innovative opportunities to make the Vanderbilt community safer, more inclusive and equitable.

Dean of Students Office of Student Campus Events

The Mission of Student Campus Events is to facilitate diverse programming for the Vanderbilt Community that cultivates social engagement, artistic exploration and personal growth.

Service and Community-Based Learning

In these programs, field-based "experiential learning" with community partners is an instructional strategy - and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life.

The Office of Active Citizenship and Service (OACS) empowers students and their service organizations to become involved in the community through volunteerism, issues awareness, education, advocacy, and activism. OACS offers a growing number of experiential learning opportunities locally, nationally, and globally. OACS encourages and supports students to become more engaged in the community through active citizenship.

Get Involved in Service

As you become a citizen of Vanderbilt and of this city, you have a great opportunity to become involved and to become part of something larger than yourself—the cause of service to others. OACS offers students and recent graduates several ways to connect to service:

  • Service                
  • Experiential Learning
  • Other: For additional information on opportunities and ways to get involved, check with
    • Your Academic Department
    • Your Residential Area Coordinator or Residential Advisor
    • Freshmen living in the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, your faculty head of house will be a wonderful resource for connecting to service opportunities and other co-curricular engagement.

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Personal Support

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Rietta Turner

Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assessment; 615-622-6834

Kelsey Roberts

Graduate Assistant

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