What is it?
Service Learning and Community Engagement (SL/CE) is our term for a variety of activities from traditional service learning projects to volunteering. Service learning is using service projects with community partner educators as a means for students to apply what they are learning in classes toward addressing a “real world” issue. Students benefit from hands-on experience in addition to traditional classroom learning. SL/CE is our commitment to helping students explore the complexity and interconnectedness of community life, as they learn and decide on their next step after college.
Intro to SL/CE in Our Program
More than half of our required courses have an engaged component. All our team members are engaged in community-based learning and research and are involved with many community partners. Service Learning and Community Engagement (SL/CE) experiences are woven through our curriculum so that Psychology & Community Studies students develop their skills from their early experiences in introductory level classes through their independent project that they develop in Senior Seminar. Getting students engaged alongside our community partners, utilizing course material to address local issues is at the heart of our program.
Why do we believe it is important?
We’re heavily invested in SL/CE because these experiences strengthen students’ understanding of course material and help them develop a very important set of skills as they progress through our degree program. By the time a student completes their senior year in our program, they have a variety of experiences that have improved their communication skills, problem solving-skills, confidence, and practical skills that will support finding jobs and applying to graduate school.
In our early program requirements CMY 110 Introduction to Community Studies and PSY 102 Personal Growth students work on SL/CE projects that help raise their awareness of the local community and our community partners. These experiences are often class projects that the faculty develops along with our community partners. (for example: Washington County One Community and The Next Step Domestic Violence Project)
Intermediate Experiences: Building of skills, knowledge and experience from earlier classes students in PSY 311 Social Psychology collaborate with a community partner and a small group of their peers to address a local issue. They use the material they are learning about related to what shapes human social behavior to address a local need. For example, Partnering with local transfer station to increase local participation in recycling.
Advanced experiences: The PSY/CMY program has three complimentary, culminating classes for students as they near completion of our program. SSC 320 Research Methods & Design is a class in which students don’t just read about research design, but work with a neighboring organization or program to assist them in their research. COE 313 Community Experience is a unique class that combines an internship with a community partner along with a weekly classroom seminar on professional issues, and BEH 450 Senior Seminar is a chance for students to combine their passion, the breadth and depth of their studies, and their future interests and spearhead a project that they develop with a community partner.
Our students graduate with:
- Stronger relations with community partners including the possibility of references and in some cases employment
- A strong connection to our program and may come to faculty representing a community agency that wants to partner with us
- An understanding of reciprocity and how to listen more carefully before making assumptions.