Skip Sub Menu

Experiential Learning

‌Drake’s location in Des Moines, Iowa’s capital and largest city, gives you 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 participated in the Sustainable Development in Africa trip to Uganda learned about farming and economic practices, helped establish a water supply system and taught at an elementary school, and assisted with building a health clinic in a rural village. 
  • The Developing Democracy in India J-term trip examinined India in 1945-1947 as a culture at a point of constitutional crisis while immersing students in present-day India. Students learned from local scholars, visited mosques and temples, along with 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 Calendar 
A&S News