diversity digest
Summer 01
Faculty Involvement
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Curriculum-Based Service-Learning Programs


A study by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles found that, in order to be truly beneficial, service-learning courses must be specifically designed to assist students in making connections between their service experiences and their academic course work. As reported in Diversity Digest (Spring/Summer 2000), the January 2000 report, "How Service Learning Affects Students," revealed that performing service as part of a course and offering the opportunity for students to process their service experience with other students added significantly to the advantages associated with community service. ("Service Learning Has Positive Impact on Key Student Learning and Diversity Outcomes," Diversity Digest (Spring/Summer 2000): http://www.diversityweb.org/Digest/Sp.Sm00/service.html

The following are examples of institutions that have created programs and courses to integrate service learning into the curriculum.


Kapi'olani Community College, Hawai'i

The Liberal Arts program at KCC provides broad-based, integrated, cross-curricular general education courses for students who transfer to four-year institutions or embark on career paths. In pursuit of its mission to instill a desire for life-long learning and personal development, KCC engages in numerous campus-community partnerships.

The "2+4=Service on Common Ground" initiative developed five major pathways to engage students in service to their community and integrate their service with academic study in general education core courses and disciplinary majors. The pathways include: partnering with community-based organizations and K-12 schools; tutoring Chinese immigrants to pass the U.S. Citizenship Test; tending the Waikiki Ahupua'a ecological system; leading reading circles with local teenagers; and providing services to home-bound elderly.

A faculty group is exploring new collaborations in service-learning, cultural diversity, community development, technology integration and teacher preparation. KCC Service-Learning faculty are developing new General Education Academic Skills Standards that emphasize "Understanding Self and Society" to prepare students for lives as civically-engaged local, national, and global citizens.


Portland State University, Oregon

Portland State University (PSU) has been recognized nationally for implementing a campus-wide engagement strategy that involves students and faculty in service-learning activities throughout the Portland metropolitan community. Students and faculty are involved in community-based scholarship in curriculum and research programs. In Senior Capstone courses, interdisciplinary teams of students apply what they have learned in their previous courses to community-identified concerns.

A partnership with Portland public schools' Migrant Education Program engages PSU students in teaching and tutoring migrant and Title 1 students. PSU also has partnerships that serve the Portland refugee community, such as SOAR (Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees) and IRCO (International Refugee Center of Oregon). Students assist refugees who have recently arrived in Portland with language acquisition and navigation of community resources.

A course in contemporary American Indian policy has students interview tribal government members, tribal resource managers, and health care providers to produce a "Handbook of Indian Affairs in Northwest Oregon." The handbook is distributed to public policy practitioners who may lack a deeper understanding of Indian affairs.


Howard University, Washington, DC

The Howard University Center for Urban Progress, an interdisciplinary Center comprised of faculty, staff, and students, mobilizes the university community to address urban crises--locally, nationally, and globally--through the development of academic programs and community leadership training, applied research activities, technical assistance, and project implementation. Launched in 1995, the Center works to install community development content in the curriculum, operates community service programs, and collaborates extensively with other units of the university.

In October 2000, The Center for the Advancement of Service Learning (CASL) was established to promote the institutionalization of service learning at Howard by developing and promoting initiatives that integrate service learning into existing courses and curricula throughout the university. CASL also provides training and technical assistance to faculty and staff for infusing service learning pedagogy into existing courses and redesigning curricula to include a service learning component (http://www.howard.edu/CenterUrbanProgress/CASL.html).


Central Connecticut State University

At CCSU, community involvement is present at all levels and structures of the university. CCSU has a long tradition of campus-community partnerships, which are an integral part of many courses.

Some majors have community-focused internships that are applicable to the students' program of study. For students in teacher preparation programs, there are unique opportunities for placement in a network of professional development schools. Students in majors other than teacher preparation also complete internships that involve volunteer community service as part of their program preparation. Some of the academic programs that participate are: art, criminal justice/criminology, English, environmental science, geography, political science, social work, sociology, and theater. Recently, the Psychology Department added a requirement for their BA program for students to take two courses that focus on ethical issues and require participation in student and/or community organizations.


University of Southern California

Time magazine and the Princeton Review have named USC "College of the Year 2000" on the basis of its strong community outreach programs. The university has forged productive alliances within its urban Los Angeles setting. USC has made campus-community programs an integral part of its overall strategic plan and a central part of the undergraduate experience.

The number of USC outreach programs has increased by 50 percent since 1993. Almost two-thirds of the undergraduate student body work in surrounding neighborhoods. By working in the areas immediately contiguous to its two campuses, USC localizes its community partnerships so as to align campus and community interests.

The Joint Educational Project (JEP), launched over twenty years ago, is one of several USC programs that help students make connections between learning inside and outside the classroom. Students participating in JEP through academic courses work in the community between eight and sixteen hours a week, and meet other JEP requirements such as training, planning, and reflecting on experiences. JEP also works with faculty from USC and other educational institutions to promote experiential teaching approaches.


Carleton College, Minnesota

Carleton College, a private, co-educational, residential liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota, has 1,700 undergraduate students. The college's civic engagement initiatives are organized by the Acting in the Community Together (ACT) office. Community service is an integral part of the Carleton culture, and service learning is a growing movement on campus.

During the winter 2000 term, Phil Camill, assistant professor of biology, taught a class entitled "Biology of Global Change." With help from the two ACT service-learning student coordinators and an environmental studies intern, students experienced community-based learning in which they developed civic competencies and civic habits. They were given multiple opportunities to do the work of citizenship through real projects of impact and relevance that were linked to their academic learning.


The Evergreen State College (TESC)

Evergreen State College values community service learning as a key element in their curriculum. The college has established a community-based learning center, housed in academic affairs, whose staff works closely with an advisory board of college and community representatives. The center supports the integration of community-based learning into academic programs through long-term community partners; summer institutes that bring community organizations and faculty together to integrate community-based learning into academic programs; and close collaboration with individual programs to implement community-based learning.

The five foci of Evergreen's pedagogy and curriculum--interdisciplinary study, personal engagement in learning, linking theory and practice, collaborative work, and teaching across significant differences--are integral to community-based learning. Faculty and students consistently integrate community-based learning into their academic programs and personal lives. For example, the center supports ongoing projects with local organizations focusing on fair trade, locally and globally, and on understanding and strengthening connections between Puget Sound-based efforts and groups throughout the Pacific Rim. This is especially important in building multicultural, cross-border aspects of their educational work.


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