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CFT Launches New Resources for Service Learning

Posted by on Friday, April 8, 2011 in News.

The last thirty years have seen the growth of a movement within higher education to encourage colleges and universities to be more engaged in public life – by conducting “public scholarship,” by supporting public service and community development, and by teaching students to become more critical and effective citizens.  This movement, most often taking the name of “community-“ or “civic-engagement,” has as one of its supporting pillars the pedagogy of “service learning.”

Service learning seeks to combine curricular learning goals and community engagement in ways that can enhance both student growth and the common good.  In the words of the National Service Learning Clearinghouse, it is “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”  When done well, service learning can provide an empowering learning experience for all involved.  It can enhance student growth and skills of citizenship, open new opportunities for faculty research and teaching, improve campus-community relationships, and aid in community development.

Vanderbilt University is home to a long and distinguished history of community engagement and service learning.  The list of innovative faculty, staff, and students who have been exemplars in this area is very long, and those who are interested in contributing to these efforts today are present across the entire campus community.

Among the manyunits at Vanderbilt that support this work, The Center for Teaching has long been a resource for faculty of all levels of experience who seek to incorporate community engagement into their teaching.  This year, in addition to ongoing workshops and consultations on service learning, the CFT is proud to serve as host for two new resources for the development of service learning at Vanderbilt:

Teaching Guide: Service Learning and Community Engagement

The CFT has many teaching guides on a variety of subjects.  This guide provides an introduction to service learning and offers advice on best practices from some of the nation’s most experienced and dedicated educators in the field.  In it you will find beginner guidelines, educational research, worksheets and other resources that may be useful as you consider incorporating community engagement into your teaching.

Service Learning Working Group

The CFT is proud to revive an earlier working group onservice learning for educators across campus and is open to all.  The Working Group meets monthly to discuss the challenges and opportunities of service learning and community engagement in higher education, often focused around faculty presentations of community-based teaching and research projects, the scholarship on service learning, or other related subjects.

If you are interested in signing up for notices about meetings of the Service Learning Working Group, please contact CFT Assistant Director Joe Bandy.  The next meeting will feature a presentation by Vanderbilt’s own internationally renowned service learning scholar, Janet Eyler, on April 26th at 3:00pm at the Center for Teaching.


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