Academic Service-Learning

Written by Toni Dunlap, WLLC 2015-2016

Hello Wellness bloggers,

In today’s society, you’ve probably noticed the importance of being of service to others is constantly emphasized. Personally, not only do I believe that serving one another is one of man-kind’s many purposes and responsibilities in life, but I also understand the necessity of serving in today’s fast-paced society. In wellness class, I’ve been learning about various types of “service-learning” and ways to assist your community. I’m excited to share in today’s blog about what I’m currently doing with a few of my wellness classmates to improve the DU community, as well as share the various types of service-learning and how you can get involved in service-learning projects in your community.

The DU wellness class is currently working on completing “academic service-learning” projects this quarter. “Service-learning is a ‘method under which students… learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that: is conducted in and meets the needs of a community and is coordinated with… an institution of higher education…and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students… and includes structured time for the students…to reflect on the service experience.’(Source 2)”. In wellness class, we’ve been split up into groups in order to partner with various organizations (on campus and off campus) to complete sustainable academic service-learning projects. “Sustainable” meaning a project that can be used to benefit the organization and community long after this project is over. This specific type of service-learning project – the academic project – involves a method of teaching that provides students with opportunities to apply academic and artistic knowledge to the identification and possible resolution of real-world, community-based problems (Source 2). Unlike “volunteerism”, high-quality academic service learning experiences are woven into class curriculum and can ask student to perform direct or indirect service with a community organization (Source 2). My group is working directly with a community organization on a community based issue.

My group is partnering with DU’s “Center of Multicultural Excellence” to design a seminar/panel discussion event for the DU community. We plan to discuss cultural and racial topics in an informative, empowering, and enlightening way. The goal for the project is to further the university’s efforts in diversity and inclusivity. It will be an opportunity to bring people of various cultural backgrounds, whom are of various ages and genders, in order to discuss an important topic that is crucial for our school to discuss. The key to diversity, inclusivity, and change is that we all respect each other and learn more about the experiences, values, feelings, and cultural norms of those around us. Hopefully, this project will be sustainable as we expect for this event to be continued on campus; plus, this event could start a domino effect by jumpstarting similar events on campus.

This project falls under the “academic service learning” category which is one of many forms of service-learning that we’ve been studying in the Wellness class. A few other forms, for example, are: community based research, project/problem based service learning, community based advocacy, and community building. There’s a few things that separate these various forms of service learning. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post to learn more about these various types of service learning. Hopefully, if you didn’t have an idea before, you’ll have more ideas of how you can get involved your community by completing a service-learning project!


Sources:

National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993

“Models of Service Learning”. Class document.

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