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Justice and Civil Society Course Information

This required course, LDST 205, Justice and Civil Society, explores the meaning and practice of justice in contemporary society. Students read about theories of justice and study a variety of socio-economic problems that raise questions about the justness of society. The course also includes a community-based learning component accompanied by critical reflection on community service to populations in need.

The course requires 24-30 hours per semester in service on site with a nonprofit agency or organization in addition to time in class and is an opportunity to link leadership theories and principles to practice in a variety of community settings through concrete, specific tasks.

Faculty members approach the class in different ways. Course syllabi are posted each semester. Dr. Julien Hayter, Dr. Kerstin Soderlund, and Dr. Thad Williamson are teaching the course during Fall 2017.

Community-Based Learning Roadmap

Students may use this section as a guide in completing requirements for the community-based component of the Justice and Civil Society course.

Step 1: Attend a Justice and Civil Society Course Orientation Session

Students must attend a mandatory course orientation session. Students will learn about requirements for the community-based learning component of the course as well as how to select and establish a working relationship with a service site.

Course orientation sessions for students enrolled in LDST 205/ Justice and Civil Society - Fall 2017 will be held on Wednesday, August 30th from 6 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. and Friday, September 1st from 4:30 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. in the Jepson Hall Room 120.

Students are required to attend only one session.

Step 2: Complete a Police Ride-Along Application (if applicable)

Some professors require that students complete four hours of social observation as part of the community-based learning component of the course; others offer this as an option in lieu of four hours of service at the community-based learning site, reducing the site service requirement from 30 hours per semester to 26 hours per semester. Social observation may consist of a four hour police ride-along in one of four precincts in the Richmond Police Department, or attendance at a weekday morning court session at the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

  • The Richmond Police Department requires that anyone wishing to participate in a police ride-along complete a Police Ride-along Application and undergo a criminal background check. Applications must be submitted before a student can schedule a ride-along; background checks can take up to three weeks. Students must arrange for their own transportation to and from the precinct.
  • There is no application requirement for a court observation, but students must submit a request in writing to Dr. Kerstin Soderlund, associate dean for student and external affairs, with their availability on weekday mornings and case type preferences. The associate dean's office will schedule the court observation and then notify students. Students must arrange for their own transportation to and from the courthouse. Students must also bring a Court Observation Verification Form with them to obain sign-off by the court administrator and then submit the completed form to the associate dean's office to document their attendance in court.
Step 3: Choose a Community-based Learning Site

An appropriate service site for this course is one in which students encounter a significant area of social need. Ideally, students should select a site that entails working with a particular population that is new and unfamiliar to them. The tasks students are asked to perform at the site must involve direct, face-to-face contact with the person or group being served. In this way they will learn from the site staff and those in need.

The Jepson School of Leadership Studies maintains a database of approved community-based learning sites with detailed information about each organization, including contact information.  Students enrolled in Justice and Civil Society should choose their community-based learning site from among these options.

Students should consider the site location, availability of convenient and reliable transportation, and lead time required to satisfy prerequisites for beginning work such as background checks, inoculation requirements, and/or special training (as detailed in the approved site list) before finalizing their site selection.

Step 4: Confirm a Community-based Learning Site

Students should arrange an interview, either in person or over the phone, with the site supervisor at the site they have identified for community-based learning. This interview is used to complete the Justice and Civil Society Community-based Learning Contract and to obtain the site supervisor's signature. A faxed signature is acceptable if conducting a phone interview. Bonner Scholars are required to complete a community-based learning contract too, even if they have already been working at the site prior to enrolling in the Justice and Civil Society course.

Note: Students who need to change sites for any reason during the semester must first complete another Justice and Civil Society Community-based Learning Contract and have it signed by their professor before submitting it to Dr. Soderlund. Hours worked at a site not previously approved will not count towards the required minimum number of volunteer hours. Permission to change sites will only be granted in the most extreme circumstances.

Step 5: Things to Know Before You Go

Students who do not have access to a vehicle may borrow a car, carpool, take a GRTC bus to a site on the bus route, or utilize University transportation. Students may also register for the service shuttle that stops near many sites. Dr. Soderlund is available to help facilitate carpool arrangements for students volunteering at the same site.

Students should familiarize themselves with the University Guidelines for Working in the Community before beginning work at a site.

Step 6: Wrapping Up the Community-based Learning Experience

Upon the fulfillment of the required hours of volunteer service, students must complete the Volunteer Service Log as well as the Community-based Learning Site Evaluation and submit them to Dr. Soderlund by the last day of class. The service log is an electronic spreadsheet which automatically calculates elapsed time as students enter their volunteer hours in military time. The Volunteer Service Log Time Conversion Chart may be used as a reference to convert regular time to military time.

Dr. Soderlund will be in contact with the student's site supervisor at the end of the semester to verify completion of all required service hours at the student's designated site. Students should note that travel time to and from a community-based learning site does NOT count towards the total hours served. Failure to complete the required number of hours may result in a failing grade.

Dr. Soderlund will also contact the student's site supervisor at the end of the semester to obtain their evaluation of the student's service.

Contact Us

Dr. Kerstin Soderlund
Assoc. Dean for Student & External Affairs
Room 123, Jepson Hall 
Office: (804) 287-6082
Fax: (804) 287-6062
E-mail: ksoderlu@richmond.edu