RSL Gateway Courses

Public policy courses that offer an RSL gateway option are known as RSL Gateway Courses. These courses, which are core courses and electives within the Public Policy major, partner with 2-3 local organizations to offer students the opportunity to work on ten-week group service projects related to course themes. Students interested in participating apply in the first month of the semester; in previous years, up to 15 students have been selected per eligible course. The RSL gateway experience generally requires students to commit to a total of approximately 20 hours over the course of the semester (in addition to the usual time commitment required by the course).

Selected students work in groups with local community partners on projects which directly address their assigned community partners’ specific needs. The project introduces students to basic research skills, and challenges them to integrate the ethical, intellectual and civic lessons from their field experiences into their Public Policy coursework. This combination of experience with academic study allows students to better understand leadership and policy change within complex social systems.

Requirements of the RSL Gateway option:

  1. Be enrolled in an RSL Gateway Course. If you are enrolled in a public policy course that offers an RSL gateway option, your professor will mention this during the first class meeting of the semester.
  2. Submit an application to be a part of the RSL gateway option.
  3. Perform 20+ hours of community service within the partner organization.
  4. Attend 1-2 critical reflection sessions with the professor and the RSL Coordinator
  5. Give an in-class presentation about your RSL project on the last day of class.
  6. Turn in a graded final deliverable (research proposal, policy memo, or report—the format is up to the discretion of the professor) connected to the coursework.
What’s in it for students?

The RSL gateway experience allows you to take the lessons you are learning in the classroom and apply them to a real life policy context. However, unlike in other service-learning courses, you will also have the opportunity to produce new knowledge, working collaboratively with your community partner to design a research project that addresses one of your organization’s essential questions or needs. Click here to read what former RSL gateway participants have said about the experience.

Participation in an RSL Gateway option also makes you eligible to pursue independent summer community-based research internships. Current or former RSL participants will have access to informational materials developed by HLP on university summer funding sources and on crafting highly competitive grant applications for summer community-based research internships. Read more about how to continue your RSL experience beyond the classroom under RSL Pathway.

Finally, students who successfully complete the requirements of the RSL gateway option and attain a grade of B or higher on the final course assignment related to the service project will receive a 1/3 grade level boost in their overall grade for the class (e.g. a B+ would become an A-).

What’s in it for faculty?

The RSL Gateway option provides an excellent opportunity to link your research and/or teaching with local, national, or international civic and community issues. It gives you the chance to work closely with a small group of students, helping them develop valuable research and ethical inquiry skills and become more meaningfully engaged in the world. Furthermore, RSL courses are designed to meet an immediate need in the community, which allows you the opportunity to use your research skills to address an issue of policy relevance.

See all the RSL Gateway Courses that have been offered over the years as well as the different community partners the students have worked with under RSL Projects.