Experiential Learning

‌Drake’s location in Des Moines, Iowa’s capital and largest city, gives students numerous opportunities to pursue educational, service, and professional experiences in the form of internships, independent studies, and service learning. 

The College of Arts and Sciences has strong ties to experiential learning: our students stand in streams catching frogs while learning about ecosystems, collaborate with area non-profit groups to produce awareness and advocacy publications, participate in stage combat and movement workshops, and attend the Presidential Inauguration, all as a part of their coursework. 

Here are just a few of the many ways the College of Arts and Sciences incorporates experiential learning into our curriculum:

Internships and Independent Study Projects:

  • Recently, our students have partnered with Drake faculty members and local organizations—like the Iowa State Historical Society, Blank Children's Developmental Center Behavior Disorders Clinic, Special Events, LLC, Iowa Homeless Youth Shelters, Latinas Al Exito, ACLU of Iowa, O'Neil Theatre Institute, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Youth Emergency Services & Shelter (YESS), Gateway Dance Theatre, Hollaback Des Moines, One Iowa, Dress for Success, Culture All, and the World Food Prize—to bring their studies to life in the vibrant Des Moines community.
  • Students can use independent studies as a way to engage in more advanced research with faculty members—some recent independent study projects have focused upon immunology studies, jazz theory, Japanese language learning, compassion studies, coral reef morphology, wealth on the Titanic, theatre scene painting, and novel writing.
  • Drake Graphic Design students work with Meredith Corporation and many other businesses and nonprofit organizations in Des Moines, Iowa's capital, to get real-world experience putting their coursework to use designing websites, fliers, posters, magazine layouts.
  • Drake Music students frequently work with the Des Moines Symphony, Central Iowa's largest and most active professional performing arts producing organization, to gain experience in being a part of a professional ensemble and gain insight into how a respected music organization is run.


  • Students who participate in the Sustainable Development in Africa trip to Uganda learn about farming and economic practices, teach and help establish a water supply system at an elementary school, and assist with building a health clinic in a rural village they visit every year. 
  • The Developing Democracy in India J-term trip will immerse students in on-site while examining India in 1945-1947 as a culture at a point of constitutional crisis. Students will react to the past while experiencing the present: learning from local scholars, visiting mosques and temples, and visiting rural and urban cultural and historical centers. 


  • Four senior Environmental Science students wrote and received a competitive service-learning grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to build the Des Moines Urban Youth Learning Garden, a holistic learning space for elementary to college-aged students. The on-campus garden encourages engagement in environmental, health, and urban gardening education, and volunteers work with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa and other youth organizations to expand food access and educational opportunities to youth in Central Iowa.
  • Two Arts & Sciences students coordinated Drake University's first ever Alternative Fall Break Program that focused on issues and activities relating to social justice, service-learning, and urban exploration within the Des Moines community.
  • In partnering with the Young Women's Resource Center, Latinos Al Exito or Youth Emergency Services and Shelter, students broaden their range of formative experiences while giving back through direct service, writing internships, and program coordination.
  • Over 60 courses at Drake, including many in the College of Arts & Sciences, offer a service-learning or community-based experience. 
A&S Events
April 17, 2014
08:00 AM - 10:00 PM
April 17, 2014
12:00 PM - 08:00 PM
April 17, 2014
07:30 PM - 09:00 PM
A&S News
April 15, 2014
On Wednesday, April 16, Drake University will host a special program for language immersion students from Merrill Middle School to celebrate Pan American Day. The students will participate in Drake Spanish courses in the morning and have the opportunity to celebrate Pan American dance and music at a performance by Drake students in Olmsted Center in the afternoon.