Students who are hoping to develop their leadership skills within community settings are encouraged to enroll in service-learning courses where they have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world public issues.
Example of a Service-Learning Course:
Serve the City Practicum: The Role of the Citizen Scholar
Dr. Melissa Kesler Gilbert
Students examine local community issues (e.g., hunger, immigration, poverty, environmental degradation, women’s rights, and human inequalities) through a social justice lens as they explore their own responsibility as both a citizen and a scholar. Topics of exploration include decreasing social capital, the soul of a citizen, the call for service, and civic engagement. Students actively participate in the community through service-learning residencies at local schools, non-profits, and government agencies. Students are trained in advocacy, leadership, community-organizing, and cross-cultural skills before moving out into the non-profit sector. Weekly on-line reflection seminars promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and the development of civic competencies, advocacy skills, and a renewed sense social responsibility.
Students in “Serve the City” are immersed in service programming enabling them to complete a “civic apprenticeship” with a local non-profit, school, or government agency whose mission is to build community capacity. Students are abe able to move learning from the classroom to the community as they work with local partners in the Columbus Metropolitan Area or with other university partners in the states or abroad. The course offers a different temporal and geographic landscape for student learning, offering students the possibility to situate themselves within both an emerging scholarly discourse on community service while simultaneously providing a landscape where they can help improve the lives of our neighbors. Research has shown that high quality short-term, intensive service-learning residencies provide a deep learning experience for students that can dismantle stereotypes, increase problem-solving skills, and develop a sense of social and civic responsibility. Students have daily opportunities to participate in the community, reflect with their peers about that experience, conceptualize the experience within an analytical framework, and test out new strategies at their site during the following visit. The service residency will also enable students to work with diverse populations at their sites. Many of the current partnerships that will support these practicum experiences will serve new immigrant families, residents living at or below the poverty line, and/or youth who have been labeled “at risk” by our schools and are living on the edges of society.