Category Archives: Social Justice Praxis Fieldwork Seminar

Social Justice and Social Change Fieldwork Seminar (SOCL B420)

Instructor: David Karen

Course Description:

This course supports students doing Praxis field placements of 8-10 hours per week at sites that do work related to social justice concerns, broadly defined. Students met in a seminar format for two hours every other week to reflect together upon their experiences in the field and connect these experiences to academic readings on social justice, activism, advocacy, and related topics.

Common Course Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to analyze different conceptions of social justice and models for social change.
  2. Students will be able to identify measures of progress toward social justice.

Elizabeth Zhao, Sociology, BMC ‘22

Social Justice and Social Change Praxis Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: Community Action Development Corporation (CADCOM)

Field Supervisor: Debbie Soto-Vega

Praxis Poster:

Elizabeth Zhao_Final Poster


Further Context:

For my Praxis seminar, I volunteered at CADCOM’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program providing free tax prep to low-income Norristown residents. I also co-coordinated the Bryn Mawr side of the program. My typical day at CADCOM would look like driving myself and the volunteers in a school van to the site, preparing tax returns, answering volunteer questions, and helping clients drop off and pick up returns. At Bryn Mawr, I would collaborate with my student co-coordinators and supervisor to improve the program—planning pop-ups, team-building events, and receiving and incorporating feedback from volunteers.

As a sociology major, I spend a lot of time learning about the ways societal structures disproportionately disadvantage and harm people. My Praxis semester at CADCOM gave me the opportunity to do something about it and reflect meaningfully on my work.

I started this semester unsure of how doing taxes could count as social justice. What social change is coming out of opening TaxSlayerPro? When TurboTax spends millions lobbying against making tax prep accessible, is free tax prep “enough?” Maybe not, but it is necessary, and I can print 1040s and work towards making it unnecessary in the meantime.

Mahima Silwal, Economics, BMC ‘22

Social Justice and Social Change Praxis Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: Four Walls Interior Design

Field Supervisor: Soné Ehabé

Praxis Poster:

Mahima Silwal Final Poster 4.26.22


Further Context:

I am so grateful to have been able to take part in David Karen’s praxis seminar on Social Justice and Social Change. For my fieldwork, I supported 4Walls Interior Design with their social media and brand strategy. I met Soné Ehabe, Principal Designer and Founder of 4Walls Interior Design because I was invited to participate in the interior design committee for the new Student Life and Wellness Building. In particular, I was motivated to reach out to Soné about the possibility of joining 4Walls as part of my praxis fieldwork because I wanted to explore the interactions between design and creating truly inclusive spaces. So many of the initial conversations, ideas, and stylistic choices that came out of the interior design committee pushed me to think critically about the spaces I experience daily. Who designs the spaces I experience? What are the intended or unintended consequences of the identity of who creates, designs, and decides the elements of a space? Why is it important to be intentional about creating spaces that ALL people feel welcome? What are the historical and sociological theories and perspectives that explore the intersection of urban design, social justice, and advocacy work?

This semester, I enjoyed spending time learning more about the history, mission, and motivations of 4Walls. It was essential for me to under the brand’s values and mission to orient and guide social media strategy across channels. For my fieldwork, I conducted background research on client sites and artist partners. I found it particularly rewarding to learn more about how intentional Soné is about acknowledging and incorporating the history of a space when creating interior design plans, as well as partnering with women and people of color and local Philly based artists. My favorite thing about my work building out a content calendar with weekly themes, outlining categories for Instagram highlights, and collaborating on copy was seeing the intentionality behind Soné’s choices at every stage of a process. From the clients she works with, the materials she uses, the partners she leverages, and the stories she tells with her designs, I have learned a lot about the connection between design and creating inclusive spaces. Above all, my biggest takeaway from my praxis experience is that I have complete agency to create opportunities to do meaningful social justice work through my skills and passion for digital work.

Amelia McDonnell, Psychology, BMC ‘22

Social Justice and Social Change Praxis Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

Field Supervisor: Megan Richardson

Praxis Poster:

Amelia McDonnell_Final Poster


Further Context:

How can statistics be utilized to be a “science of social justice”? This semester, I sought on a path to investigate this question within the Public Health Management Corporation, based in Philadelphia, PA. More specifically, I worked with the Division of Teaching & Learning within the Research and Evaluation Group, who view education inequality as a public health issue. In this position, I assisted in both evaluation and research for projects centered on improving preschool through postsecondary education. I built firsthand experience of how evaluation of initiatives through qualitative and quantitative data serves a crucial role in advancing social justice. This social progress is achieved through their recommendations to practitioners and policymakers. Moreso, I learned the importance of viewing community building as a process not a project, which requires a focus on helping create the conditions that make social change more likely to take place.

Amirah Hewitt, Mathematics, BMC ‘22

Social Justice and Social Change Praxis Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: FringeArts

Field Supervisor: Zoe McNichols

Praxis Poster:

Amirah Hewitt_Final Poster


Further Context:

My name is Amirah (she/her), a Mathematics senior interning at FringeArts.

What is FringeArts? FringeArts is a contemporary arts organization dedicated to artistic, cultural, and community development through innovative showcases featuring comedy, theater, cirque, and other forms and through engaging, enriching spaces.

What did I do? Work at FringeArts consisted of both administrative and project-based tasks. At my self-scheduled hours during the week, I would start my digital work day going between these tasks whether it was reading relevant research and articles for curatorial and artistic research or corresponding via email to arrange housing and travel for incoming artists.

What did I learn? Learning and work at my placement felt like an intertwined, integral process. Being new to this space and this work, I understood there was much learning to do but, because my placement’s supervisor encouraged and structured this learning into our experiences working (and learning) together, I felt better equipped to engage with newness and complexity, take on challenges, and approach them with curiosity, compassion, and confidence.

Connections to Praxis? Being a part of the Social Justice and Social Change Praxis, my Praxis placement was a site of organizational work where I was able to contribute to social justice and change while, my Praxis course, with its readings, reflections, and discussions, was a site of learning work where I could engage with social justice and change. Because I had these two spaces simultaneously and symbiotically, I had opportunities to create connections between my placement and my coursework that grew my understanding and practices in truly unique, valuable ways.

Ani Dixit, Biology, BMC ‘22

Social Justice and Social Change Praxis Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: Nationalities Services Center

Field Supervisor: Brianna Andrews

Praxis Poster:

Ani Dixit_Final Poster


Further Context:

“We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”- Former President Barack Obama

To direct my anthropological and sociological exploration, as well as further my skills to be a more effective social advocate, I participated in the fieldwork seminar Social Justice and Social Change interning with the Survivors’ Services (SS) under the Refugee Community Integration department/Refugee resettlement program in the Nationalities Service Center (NCS) of Philadelphia. I worked with the Anti-Human Trafficking Team (AHT). I have gained a much deeper understanding of the complexities that exist within public benefits, advocacy work, resource allocation, and how small tasks can be the first steps into larger social change.

Under guidance of AHT case manager Bianca Taipe, I worked directly with 7 clients who had undergone human trafficking and indirectly with 15 clients under the umbrella of Survivor Services.

Support Groups 

I helped to create, lead, and facilitate 5 different support groups for the 7 Hindi-speaking refugees. Prior to my involvement, there had not been an organized support for this group of refugees as many were pre-literate and could only speak Hindi. As a Hindi-speaking language advocate I ensured that the refugees were getting full access to all of the resources NSC has to offer.

The first support group I facilitated was entitled “Navigating Challenging Emotions” wherein we discussed the horrifying experiences and traumatic emotions that arise from human-trafficking. We used trauma-informed care and deployed strategies to avoid re-traumatization. We also discussed mental health resources, and used an open forum to talk about challenges with adjusting to living in the U.S. We further reviewed self-kindness practices, and worked on recognizing individual strengths. I helped to create content, as well as materials for the support group including flyers in both English and Hindi that were sent to clients. I further sent messages and placed calls to the refugees, ensured PowerPoints were accessible, and acted as a second translator during the support group meetings to facilitate communication.

The second support group explored how to use the public transport in Philadelphia (buses, trolley, train line), and what landmarks and cultural sites they can visit. The third support group encompassed a presentation to familiarize them with their interpretation rights and a workshop on how to ask for an interpreter when going outside of the NSC for an appointment (including going to a hospital for mental or physical health care, pharmacies, or visa offices).

The fourth support group assisted with learning about the DMV and how to obtain a driver’s license. The final support group was a feedback meeting without any case managers present to hold an open forum wherein refugees provided feedback on programs that worked well within the NSC, and what could be improved to best assist them in their journey without fear of retaliation.

Client Accompaniment and Advocacy

When possible, I accompanied clients to appointments and tasks including going to doctor’s appointments, pharmacies for COVID vaccines, to stores to get phone plans in the role of an advocate to assist with questions about the process and mitigate any challenges. When I was unable to physically join the refugees to their appointments due to my own class and work schedule, I helped by preemptively creating maps and directions (in English and Hindi) to ensure that they could make it to the new location. Additionally, I created and provided them with a template on how to ask for an interpreter when they reach their destination.

Resource Compilation 

I indirectly assisted many clients of Survivor Services through local resource accumulation such as collecting information on all the nearby places in Philadelphia that serve hot, fresh, nutritious meals. This was especially useful for a client with medical problems who also benefited greatly by my calling to ensure the client was eligible for the services that were available. Additionally, I  assisted clients with their driver’s license test. I also provided information on nearest nursing programs, and libraries that are walking distance from the client’s home.

Connection to Class 

Class fieldwork allowed me to implement ideas of frameworks of structures within society, how one can fit within that structure in order to lead social change, and understand/avoid potential power dynamics. Through my personal academic readings, I found a study which reviewed services for sexual assault survivors in Texas published in 2022. They found that the best ways to ensure that victims have the best experience with services and recovery is to ensure that there are no limitations on times of service, consistent trauma-informed practices, nearby service locations, and plentiful information provided to survivors. In order to ensure there are no gaps in my work with the AHT clients, I made an effort to ensure that support groups sessions were held on times that were easy for them to take part in such as during lunch hours, on days off from work or, in the evenings from 6-7pm after office hours when they are back at home. Moreover, I completed all trauma-informed care trainings and avoided retraumatization. I provided multi-pronged assistance, by meeting in-person at the NSC office, went to the refugees’ homes for accompaniment, and also held support groups online so they can join from any location. Further, I made sure to make NSC programs available in their native tongue and frequently called to check in.


Praxis has been a phenomenal journey for me. I am exceptionally grateful that I have been able to participate in it. It gave me a special and deeply important opportunity to apply the theoretical frameworks accumulated through years of study at Bryn Mawr College to practically impacting lives of humans deeply affected by traumatic experiences– Linking words in a book to direct action and constructive change. This experience could not have been possible without the guidance, direction, and support of Nell Anderson & Dr. David Karen at Bryn Mawr College and Brianna Andrews & Bianca Taipe at the Nationalities Service Center. Thank you all so much.


Kellison, B., Sookram, S.B., Camp, V., Sulley, C., Susswein, M., McCarty-Harris, Y., Dragoon, S., Kammer-Kerwick, M., & Busch-Armendariz, N. (2022). Voices of Texas sexual assault survivors : Services, gaps, and recovery journeys. Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, The University of Texas at Austin.