I started my work with higher education civic engagement as a community
> How did you get involved with this program?
partner. I was the Volunteer Coordinator at Simpson Housing Services
and had hosted service-learning students for several years. I found the
work of partnering with Universities to be one of my favorite aspects of
my job so when a position came up in the Career and Community Learning
Center, I jumped at the chance. I have know worked at the U for 5 1/2
years and was a community partner for 2 years prior.
Each semester we have between 25-35 service-learning classes offered in
> How many service learning classes are offered at the U?
a wide range of disciplines. There are 3 service-learning coordinators
in our office so we divide up the classes. I generally work with
English, Social Justice, Youth Studies, Geography, Business, Spanish,
Chicano Studies, GLBT Studies, and Design, Housing and Apparel.
The first official service-learning class was offered in the late 1980's
> How long has the U been offering service learning classes?
though at that time there wasn't a service-learning office. John
Wallace, who still teaches in Philosophy was one of the first faculty
members at the University to connect courses to community and he still
continues to teach to very popular service-learning courses.
This can vary from year to year but on average there are about 25
> How many different departments include service learning options?
departments from 7 colleges that offer service-learning classes.
The ability for a student to take service-learning classes depends
> Can students in any college at the U take service learning classes?
largely on what College they are enrolled in. CLA has the greatest
number of service-learning classes in the widest range of majors. CLA
students could take multiple service-learning classes that would fulfill
major requirements and CLE requirements. In contrast, there isn't a
single service-learning class in IT, so those students have a more
challenging time to find a SL course that fits into their schedule.
Some Universities have a service-learning requirement for ALL students
on campus but I don't think that is a direction we are headed.
I am somebody who believes that experiential learning- learning that is
> What do you think is the most beneficial part of service learning for
> the student and for the organization they volunteer at?
rooted in a community- can be the most transformational and meaningful
academic experience. In my own undergrad, I participated in a study
abroad program that was experiential based and that semester completely
changed my academic direction and gave me a clear focus on my values and
what I wanted to pursue academically and professionally. I often hear
from students in service-learning classes that the experience clarified
their educational goals and gave them a clearer idea of what they would
like to do in the future. I also hear students say that making
contributions to the community enhances their academic work and connects
them to communities and people they might otherwise not interact with.
Non-profits are often operating with limited financial resources and
small staff sizes so the support of service-learning students is
critical to fulfilling their mission. I hear from our community
partners, that students often bring fresh and new perspectives on the
work that in turn, reinvigorates and inspires the staff.