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OACS/MHS Service-Learning Course


MHS 3890: Resettlement in Nashville – Advocating for the Displaced

Quick Facts

  • What/Where: MHS 3890: Resettlement in Nashville – Advocating for the Displaced. Class Meets in Buttrick 206
  • When: Thursdays, 5:30-7:30
  • Who: All Vanderbilt Undergraduate Students
  • How Much: Students Granted a Limited Budget for Travel & Project Costs
  • Course Faculty: Dr. JuLeigh Petty, Dr. Clive Mentzel, and Melissa Looby, M.Ed.

This is a 3 credit hour service learning course designed for students to explore the current global crisis of human displacement through a local lens in the Nashville community. Students will learn from local experts working in various areas of refugee support services, including primary care providers and policymakers on the complex issues impacting the health and well-being of displaced persons in Nashville. The course will consist of didactic content and immersive service learning experiences directed by course faculty and local experts working with displaced persons. Students will combine the first-hand service experience with the academic material through intentional dialogue about the nuances of care and constant reflection around the lived experience of refugees and the positive and negative consequences of resettlement. Students will develop evidence-based and targeted approaches to alleviate community-identified stressors and promote advocacy within Nashville’s refugee populations, culminating in the presentation of an action plan based on the Social Change model of Leadership Development. At the conclusion of the class, students will present their final projects in an effort to enact actionable change.

COURSE SYLLABUS: MHS 3890 Resettlement in Nashville – Advocating for the Displaced


  1. Course Number and Title: MHS 3890: Resettlement in Nashville – Advocating for the Displaced
  2. Level/Specialty: Undergraduate students of any discipline.
  3. Course Pre-requisites: Completion of application and acceptance, HIPPA training and OACS background check

Total Credit Hours: 3

1 didactic hr = 1 credit hr 1  credit hours
1 Service learning credit = 3 hrs 2 credit hrs, 6 contact hrs per week
Total Credit Hours 3

Students will complete a total of 72 service hours with an agency in the community serving refugees.

Course Delivery Method/Class day and time: Thursdays 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Buttrick 206                 

II. COURSE OBJECTIVES: Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Examine the root causes and consequences of human displacement
  2. Describe the resettlement experience from the perspective of displaced persons
  3. Analyze the complex relationships between local resettlement agencies, the US government and the larger communities into which displaced people are resettled
  4. Identify barriers to existing and integrating fully into new communities including equitable access to health, work, and education experienced by refugees and displaced persons living in Nashville
  5. Engage critical thinking skills through examining deep-rooted issues related to equity and justice
  6. Critically reflect on the interconnectedness of communities worldwide through challenging assumptions and considering alternative perspectives
  7. Recognize one’s own potential to affect meaningful community change while maintaining a humble appreciation of the challenges of impact


Learning Experiences:

  1. Weekly lectures and class discussions
  2. Assigned readings
  3. Online learning activities such as podcasts, documentaries, webinars and modules in Brightspace
  4. Biweekly service reflection logs
  5. Attendance and participation in discussions during class
  6. 72 hrs of service with a local refugee advocacy agency
  7. Development and presentation of a personal action plan


  • Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE)
  • Catholic Charities
  • ESL to Go