Supervised field experience is a critical component for the learning and development of each CDA student. The purpose of the practicum experience is to allow each student the opportunity to apply foundational community development principles and coursework and to build professional skill sets in meaningful settings. Most frequently, these experiences take place in off-campus organizational or public agency settings, but they may also take other forms. Over some summers, the Department of Human and Organizational Development offers opportunities to participate in a Fieldschool of Intercultural Education, which can also be counted toward practicum requirements with prior approval.
CDA practicum requires a minimum of 300 hours over the course of the student's two year degree. Although the timeline varies somewhat from student to student, the basic structure and supports for practicum work include the following:
First semester: CDA students are required to enroll in HOD 6100: Becoming an Agent of Change (Proseminar). Discussions about practicum placements and aid in initial contact can take place near the end of this course. The instructor will assist students with determining an appropriate practicum placement based on the student’s interests and professional goals.
Second semester: CDA students are required to enroll in HOD 6600: Pre-Practicum. This course is an organizational theory and design course that coincides with the student’s entry and first semester in the practicum placement. During this semester, students are required to work 8-10 hours/week at their practicum site and complete corresponding course work such as an individualized learning plan, organizational analysis, and reflection papers.
Summer and/or Third semester: CDA students complete their remaining practicum hours in the same or different placements. Many CDA students use their practicum work as the basis for their thesis or final project. All students are required to complete a final practicum report that describes their work and accomplishments within the placement and integrates the practicum experience with theory, research and practice-based skills they learned in CDA coursework.
CDA students have completed their practicum placements in a broad variety of settings in Nashville and beyond. A small sample of those organizations include the following:
Community Food Advocates
Magdalene & Thistle Farms
Nashville Opera Association
Safe Haven Family Shelter
Tennessee Environmental Council
Tennssee Voices for Children