Service-Learning and Community Engagement
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Service-learning is a form of experiential education which links academic study to real world experiences in community settings. It fosters civic responsibility by focusing on critical, reflective thinking and an appreciation of larger social issues inherent in a democracy. Training, supervision and evaluation are provided by supervisors at community-based organizations, in collaboration with the MSU Service-Learning and Community Engagement Program and its faculty partners. Service-learning activities enhance academic learning, build maturity and insight, and they prepare students for active citizenship and lifelong learning. MSU’s Service-Learning Program was officially launched in the spring of 1996 as part of the University’s broader commitment to experiential education.
The Experiential Education Committee of the Faculty Senate proposed the following definition of service-learning which was approved by MSU's University Senate in May, 1998:
Service-learning is a course-based, credit bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized community-based service activity. This activity meets identified community needs, and provides a student with sufficient time to reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain a greater understanding of course content and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.
A Service-Learning course must:
- Be formally recognized by the University.
- Include a partnership approved by the University, among faculty members, students, a grassroots organization/community agency and service recipients, which addresses an identified community need.
- Emphasize a pedagogy that requires participants to critically reflect on a service-learning experience.
- Require students to actively participate in community-based projects that address identified community needs.
- Provide both clear and explicit learning outcomes for students. The course is structured to maximize the achievement of these outcomes for students, faculty, service-learning program staff, and agency supervisors.
- Integrate theory, practice, and social responsibility.
- Include a description of the responsibilities of each student, faculty, site supervisor, and community partner.
- Include training, supervision, support, recognition and evaluation by faculty and agency partners.
- Include a mechanism for participants to provide feedback on the service-learning experience.
- Provide for evaluation procedures to assess the impact of the Program.
The Service-Learning and Community Engagement Program seeks to foster the development of informed and involved citizens through the integration of service to the community with academic course work and to engage University resources (faculty, staff, students, and alumni) to address issues of public concern at local, state, and national levels.
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- To create and support community-based education courses and meta-curricular community engagement projects wherby students can attain the knowledge skills, and motivations to become informed and involved citizens.
- To develop and maintain sustainable and reciprocal campus/community partnerships through collaborative projects and initiatives serving the needs of the larger community.
- To increase the institutional attention and commitment to service-learning and community engagement programs and initiatives.
- To create systems of support, reward, and recognition for the teaching, learning, and scholarship of service-learning and community engagement.
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