The Use of Community Engaged Learning in the Teaching of the Sociology of Deviance

  • Andrea LaMarre Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph
  • Linda Hunter Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph


This paper explores community-engaged scholarship as a framework to support the learning objectives of a sociological deviance course taught at the University of Guelph. This teaching methodology concretizes and humanizes members of groups socially defined as deviant and allows students to step outside of traditional academic methodology and to actively engage in scholarship. While there are myriad ways to implement community-engaged techniques, the use of community partners as guest speakers will be explored in this paper. Throughout a one-semester sociological deviance course, speakers were brought in from various community organizations to share either lived or professional experiences in fields relating to groups socially defined as deviant.  Reflections by students and speakers are presented herein, as a means of demonstrating the utility of using community engaged scholarship in the teaching of sociological deviance and enriching the knowledge schemas and capacity for action on the part of students, community partners and professors. One of the primary benefits of community-engaged work is its ability to give voice to community partners, a voice which may be largely ignored in traditional academic endeavors. The technique also creates a bridge between theory and practice and has the potential to improve student-learning outcomes, build the sociological imagination among students and professors, and mobilize knowledge beyond the walls of the classroom. As a result of engaging in active learning about social deviance, students report feeling better connected to the community as a whole, reinforcing the social and civic responsibility and partnership facets of community engaged scholarship.