Policy and History in York
Associate Professor of History Corey Brooks’ Policy and History in York Class successfully demonstrates the relevancy of historical research. Students worked hard throughout the semester to understand the history of poverty in York so that they could present their findings to community leaders.
One of the main elements of the course was its focus on independent research that would eventually come together in the final presentation. Unlike professors in traditional classes, Brooks acted more as a mentor, giving advice and guidance, while still letting the students work through any challenges they faced. Students Danielle Gemper- line ’20 (York, PA) and Cody Little ’19 (Kulpmont, PA) both expressed how helpful Professor Brooks was throughout the semester. “The most helpful thing Dr. Brooks did for our class, was leave us to our own devices,” says Little.
In addition to giving students the opportunity to conduct important historical research, largely on their own, Policy and History in York al- lowed York College students to enact real change in the community. At the conclusion of the course, students presented their combined research detailing the history of poverty policy in York to local politicians and community leaders, including the city’s mayor and the city council president.
“Initially, the idea of presenting to community leaders was exciting yet a bit intimidating at the same time,” says Gemperline. However, as nervous as they were, their presentation became one of the most valuable experiences of the course, and one of the most successful. “The community stakeholders who watched our presentation were both engaged and took our research very seriously; I believe that was inextricably connected to the fulfillment we all felt upon the completion of the course,” notes Little.
York College’s commitment to combining student learning with community engagement is evident in Brooks’ new course. By analyzing poverty policy in York through a historical lens, students were able to influence policymakers’ perspectives and contribute to the betterment of the community. While challenging, students reflected on the class as an overall positive and rewarding experience; mostly because the purpose of their research was not for a grade, but rather to make a positive impact on the city.
Dominic DelliCarpini, PhD, Dean of York College’s Center for Community Engagement, says, “This course showed the ways that history continues to be relevant – not only in general terms, but for addressing current issues. Since the students researched the history of issues that still affect York, they have learned how looking deeply at the past can help them think about the present and the future.”
Brooks looks forward to repeating the course and continuing to bring other issues facing the York community to light through a historical lens.