Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning (REAL)

VCU’s Relevant, Experiential and Applied Learning initiative represents a promise to our students. It’s a promise to provide them with a meaningful, multifaceted experience during their time at VCU: one that contributes to their intellectual, professional and personal growth.

Through investments in faculty and staff professional development, and engaging students in the development and design of engagement pathways, we can ensure that all VCU students have intentionally designed experiential opportunities to connect their academic skills and knowledge to the complex challenges facing our local, national, and global communities.


Dr. Erin Webster-Garrett, assistant vice provost for REAL, provides oversight and guidance for the REAL initiative. Part of the university's Office of Academic Affairs, Dr. Webster-Garrett can be reached at (804) 827-3421 or

REAL themes

VCU’s Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning (REAL) initiative provides students with impactful, career-building experiences through academically-anchored, co-curricular activities.

These activities, built into the undergraduate curriculum, revolve around four main themes, designed to help students turn their experiences in the classroom into action and service. These themes are:

  • Serve: activities that incorporate community engagement and service opportunities
  • Discover: activities that closely unite academic goals with a sense of inquiry and exploration
  • Create: activities that encourage innovative, critical thinking as well as collaboration with other disciplines
  • Career: activities that tie student academic goals to authentic, real-world work happening in the field

View the REAL informational flyer »

Read the REAL steering committee's full report »