Community Service Learning DTF - Report
The Engaged Campus Report and Recommendations
(Community-based) learning is experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of (community-based) learning.2
The engaged campus, like the community-based learning student, recognizes that knowledge cannot be separated from the purposes to which it is directed. The engaged campus is not just located within a community, it is intimately connected to the public purposes and aspirations of community life itself. The engaged campus is unable to separate its unique responsibility for the development of knowledge from the role of knowledge in a democratic society to form the basis for social progress and human equality.3
2. Request to the Strategic Planning DTF
3. Philosophy and Practice of Community-Based Learning
4. Reflection and Reciprocity: Key Concepts of Community-Based Learning
5. History of Community-Based Learning at Evergreen: 1971 - present
6. What We Learned from Faculty, Students and Community Organizations
7. A Few Recent Examples of Community-Based Learning at Evergreen
8. A Few Examples of Community-Based Learning at Other Colleges
9. Enduring Issues for Future Work
10. Frequently Asked Questions
1 The DTF believes that the phrase "community-based learning" is more understandable and explanatory than the more widely used phrase "service-learning," so we use "community-based learning" throughout this document. In practice, the two phrases are interchangeable and "service-learning" is used more widely in the literature and throughout the country.
2 Barbara Jacoby, "Service-Learning in Today's Higher Education," in Jacoby (ed) Service-Learning in Higher Education (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996), pg. 5.
3 Elizabeth Hollander, "Picturing the Engaged Campus," Campus Compact, in Service-Learning: Involving Students in Civic Engagement and Responsibility, Annual Meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 1/27/99.
The DTF recommends forming a small community-based learning center, the Center for Community Partnerships, to aid faculty in making community-based learning a part of their academic programs and to provide community organizations with a point of contact for community-based learning resources.
The DTF on Community-Based Learning has studied community-based learning at Evergreen and throughout the country for almost two years. It's been a rich period of investigation for us. We've ranged widely in the literature, visited and talked with people at other colleges, surveyed and talked with a wide spectrum of students, faculty and staff at Evergreen, hosted a visit by Ed Zlotkowski (AAHE's Senior Fellow on community-based learning), and conducted focus groups with Evergreen staff, faculty, students and regional community organizations. We've met with the planning units, the planning unit coordinators, the academic deans, the public service center directors, Tacoma faculty and the vice presidents.
Community-based learning requires us to think deeply about the meaning of education. Community-based learning within and by academic programs is more than connecting theory with practice. It is an acknowledgment that learning occurs in context, and that the context of the seminar or classroom can and should be deeply enriched by the skills and creativity that students learn in work with community organizations. Community-based learning is a commitment by the institution, academic programs and individual students and faculty to put our knowledge, skills and values to work within our community.
Most of all, community-based learning is about learning: mostly by students, but also by faculty, staff and the institution as a whole. Community-based learning enables students to apply their knowledge in concrete situations, to solve problems in partnership with the community. The rewards of this kind of learning are immediate and powerful. Community-based learning gives faculty and staff the opportunity to build long-term community relationships which continually inform and strengthen the curriculum. Finally, community-based learning places the college as a progressive force deeply involved in community work. It helps shift our focus from ourselves and our internal concerns and asks us to apply our knowledge and explore the creation of knowledge with others.
Evergreen's pedagogy and structure make us fertile ground for adopting community-based learning. We do not need to re-make our pedagogy to address active teaching and learning. We are in front of most of the country in what we have (responsive, changing full-time and half-time academic programs; focus on teaching; interdisciplinary, collaborative teaching and learning; narrative evaluations) and in what we don't have (departments, academic rank, focus on research to the exclusion of teaching, grades).
Some faculty already do, or have in the past done, community-based learning in their academic programs. However, these efforts are often less visible and acknowledged than they should be. We have no archive or history. The college has no formal point of contact for community organizations wishing to join us in community-based learning. And as a college we provide very little support to faculty wishing to incorporate community-based learning into their programs.
In many colleges, community-based learning helps break barriers to effective teaching and learning. At Evergreen, community-based learning fits seamlessly with our pedagogies and our structures to greatly enhance and strengthen effective teaching and learning.
A national initiative in community-based learning by the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) reveals that many colleges throughout the country are taking community-based learning very seriously. The collective experience of colleges that have seriously implemented community-based learning points to two criteria for success. First, community-based learning must be an acknowledged part of the college's mission in rhetoric and in fact. Second, community-based learning must be actively supported by the college.
We believe that Evergreen's rhetoric and mission statement adequately promotes the idea of community involvement and community-based learning. But the DTF's study strongly demonstrates a need for active support of community-based learning by the college.
We propose establishing a community-based learning center in the academic arm of the college with its director or co-directors working closely with an advisory board of college and community representatives. The primary work of the center would be to support the integration of community-based learning into academic programs through: formation and nurturing of long-term community partners; summer institutes to bring community organizations and faculty together to integrate community-based learning into academic programs; close collaboration with individual programs to implement community-based learning; and promotion of "best practices" of collaboration, cooperation and evaluation.
The center's driving force would be learning in context: students, faculty and staff learning with people in their communities about issues that compel them, and joining with others in working on projects that sustain their lives, their communities and the environment. While the base for this work is collaboration with neighbors in Thurston County, it looks to broader collaborations as well. The center might support ongoing projects with local organizations focusing on fair trade in the community and beyond; students could work to understand and strengthen connections between Puget Sound-based efforts and groups throughout the Pacific Rim. This could be especially important in building multicultural, cross-border aspects of our educational work.
The work of the center would be to:
- serve as a point of contact between academic programs and community organizations.
- serve as a clearinghouse and archive of opportunities and past work.
- stimulate curricular innovation involving community-based learning.
- consider strategies and approaches for evaluating community-based learning.
- negotiate, broker and coach community-academic partnership projects.
- conduct fund raising for partnerships involving community-based learning.
- conduct institutes for faculty development and curricular revitalization involving
- promote the college's commitment to diversity by actively seeking partners from diverse communities.
- promote and nurture in close cooperation with faculty - long-term, collaborative relationships with community organizations and academic programs.
- work with Academic Advising to help make internships more meaningful as learning. This might mean organizing seminars for interns, strengthening relationships with organizations which commonly host interns, and suggesting ways that faculty might become more involved in supervising student internships involving community-based learning.
The center would consist of one professional staff position and one half-time clerical sta position. A faculty member would rotate into the center for a two-year term to conduct mod programs with students and work with faculty. Several work-study students would support professional staff and faculty.
The DTF believes it important to develop, nurture and sustain broad and deep relationships with the community. Our constantly changing curriculum poses special problems to the continuity of our efforts in community-based learning, problems the DTF believes a center can successfully address. The professional staff person would serve as a matchmaker between Evergreen programs and community organizations, working with faculty and community members to develop and build upon mutual interests. A primary goal here is to build a number of long term community partners with whom programs can work consistently over the years. Some examples of long term partners might be the City of Olympia, the Department of Ecology, tribal nations, Safeplace, Bread and Roses, the Sustainable Community Roundtable, the Kitchen Garden Project and the Department of Corrections. The professional staff person would work closely with faculty to help structure meaningful community-based learning projects within programs.
The rotating faculty position would plan and implement model community-based learning programs, and, with the professional staff, conduct summer workshops. The rotating position would co-teach a half-time program incorporating community-based learning, and spend the remainder of his/her time working closely with other academic programs.
Several established and successful community-based learning programs at other colleges use work study students as liaisons between faculty and community organizations and as staff in the community-based learning center. We propose to utilize several students in these capacities.
The center, although located in the academic division, should have a strong linkage with the academic advising office, which helps and advises students with internships. The DTF concluded that internships should remain in academic advising, but that the community-based learning center and academic advising would greatly benefit from a close relationship. We recommend that academic advising and the center work together to share information about community contacts and to improve the quality of student learning in internships.
2. Request to the Strategic Planning DTF
We request that the Strategic Planning DTF include community-based learning as a part of their recommendation to the faculty. We believe it important to recognize the importance of community-based learning in our strategic plan, and to promote support for community-based learning among faculty, staff and students. We suggest that the Strategic Planning DTF consider this language for inclusion in their report: "Evergreen supports the partnership of academic programs and community organizations to address mutually agreed upon community needs as a means to enhance and strengthen student learning."
3. Philosophy and Practice of Community-Based Learning
Scholars of community-based learning trace the movement's philosophic roots to John Dewey and Jane Addams. Dewey personified the public intellectual, spoke often of education as practice, and emphasized the role of education in building community and civic life.
"The school, the family, the political party, and the general public all constitute communities. The particular job of the educational community, as Dewey saw it, was to overcome ever-competitive individualism with interactive cooperation, and this pre-supposed participation. "Mere instruction that is not accompanied with direct participation in school affairs upon a genuine community basis will not go far....," wrote Dewey. "This participation should extend beyond the school and include an active part in some phases of the larger community life." 4
Dewey argued that education helps shape character, and that an important aspect of education is to prepare the student both for a vocation and participation in community life. Education and wider community life should also embody and build democratic culture. Dewey's theory of democratic education, argue two authors, may be stated as four propositions:
1. "Reflective thought is an active response to the challenge of the environment." 2. "Individuals learn best when they participate "in the formation of the purposes that govern their activities." 3. All individuals can contribute to knowledge.
The recent movement toward problem-based learning, collaborative learning, interdisciplinary approaches and learning communities all find a philosophic base in Dewey's work. The idea of community-based learning as contributing to and building civic and moral life is rooted in Dewey.
Addams' work, according to Keith Morton and Marie Troppe, was revolutionary because she linked two practices:
systematically surveying the neighborhood around Hull House (Addam's settlement house in Chicago) and insisting that, in the words of biographer Ellen Lagemann, "It was not for her to choose what services Hull House would offer. Hull House had to be ready to meet whatever needs its neighbors presented." The surveys were conducted jointly with the social science faculty at the University of Chicago. In addition, Addams engaged current and recently graduated college students in service to the community around her settlement houses. 6
4. David Halliburton, "John Dewey: A Voice That Still Speaks to Us," Change, January/February 1997.
5. Ira Harkavy, Lee Benson, "De-Platonizing and Democratizing Education as the Bases of Service Learning," in Robert Rhoads and Jeffrey Howard, eds., Academic Service Learning, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.
Community-based learning is a problem-centered, interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to learning. In the ideal scenario students and faculty work with the community to identify and address problems important to the community. Students and faculty, together with community members, carry out some agreed upon work, then engage together in reflecting upon and evaluating what they learn from a given project. Interest in community-based learning in higher education has grown since the 1970s, with hundreds of colleges and universities today employing community-based learning in some form.
Some of the current interest in the subject is positive and corrective. Community-based learning is seen as a counter to a generally perceived apathy or cynicism toward civic life. Other commentators point to the widespread public perception of the university or college as "academic," that is, irrelevant to "real life," and see community-based learning as one solution. Some see colleges and universities as contributing little to their communities, and propose community-based learning as a corrective. One scholar states that
. . . as we learned in the New England Resource Center for Higher Education survey, most of the commitment to community service on the part of colleges and universities is lip service. The conditions that would encourage more than just the very committed people - who can be counted on even in the most discouraging circumstances - do not exist on most campuses. 7
Most observers agree that higher education must become more active in the greater community. Community-based learning, then, is both really useful to both college and community, as well as being solid public relations in an era in which higher ed is seen as divorced from community.
Some see community-based learning as leading to reform of pedagogy and curriculum as a whole by introducing problem-centered, interdisciplinary, collaborative teaching and learning to colleges and universities that currently do not practice it. Fortunately, Evergreen's pedagogy and curriculum are particularly well suited to incorporate community-based learning as integrally as they currently incorporate the interactive seminar, collaborative learning and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The DTF believes that community-based learning would enhance Evergreen's programs in powerful ways that will teach us new pedagogies and help make teaching and learning more effective. With the addition of community-based learning to the curriculum, Evergreen would join a handful of colleges at the "cutting edge" of linking community service to student-active pedagogy. 9
6. Keith Morton and Marie Troppe, "From the Margin to the Mainstream: Campus Compact's Project on Integrating Service with Academic Study," in Two Cases of Institutionalizing Service-Learning: How Campus Climate Affects the Change Process, Campus Compact, 1996.
7. Zelda Gamson, "Higher Education Rebuilding Civic Life," Change, January/February 1997.
8. Barry Checkoway, " Reinventing the Research University for Public Service," Journal of Planning Literature, February 1997.
9. See William H. Newell, "Powerful Pedagogies," and Karen Kashmanian Oates and Laura Gaither, "Integration and Assessment of Service-Learning in Learning Communities," in Barbara Leigh Smith and John McCann, eds., Organizing for Learning: Reform and Experimentation in Higher Education, in manuscript.
4. Reflection and Reciprocity: Key Concepts of Community-Based Learning
The literature stresses the concepts of reflection and reciprocity as key elements of community-based learning.
The idea of reflection is something Evergreen has institutionalized in faculty narrative evaluations of students, student narrative evaluations of faculty, student narrative self evaluations, and faculty-student evaluation conferences. According to Barbara Jacoby,
". . .community-based learning is based on the pedagogical principle that learning and development do not necessarily occur as a result of experience itself, but as a result of a reflective component explicitly designed to foster learning and development." 10
In the community-based learning context,
"reflection should include opportunities for participants to receive feedback from those persons being served, as well as from peers and program leaders." 11
Reflection places the problem under consideration in the context of the discipline, personal values, and in the context of wider social issues.
Reciprocity means that those providing services and those being served participate in community-based learning on an equal basis, and that those being served define their needs. Four principles of reciprocity in community-based learning are:
1. An effective program allows for those with needs to define those needs.
2. An effective program clarifies the responsibilities of each person and organization involved.
3. An effective program matches service providers and service needs through a process that recognizes changing circumstances.
4. An effective program expects genuine, active, and sustained organizational commitment. 12
Other scholars of community-based learning stress that an effective program "is committed to program participation by and with diverse populations." 13
10. Barbara Jacoby, "Service-Learning in Today's Higher Education." 6-7.
12. Suzanne Mintz and Garry Hesser, "Principles of Good Practice in Service-Learning," in Barbara Jacoby (ed.) Service-Learning in Higher Education. 42-43.
13. Ibid., pg. 30; Also see Marylu McEwen, "Enhancing Student Learning and Development through Service-Learning," in the same book.
5. Community-Based Learning at Evergreen, 1971 - Present
Evergreen students, staff and faculty have engaged to some degree in community-based learning from the beginning of the college in 1971. The college's Office of Cooperative Education, and later, APEL, assisted students and faculty in finding, supervising and evaluating internship opportunities. Many academic programs over the years have incorporated community-based learning. Some of the public service centers (notably the Labor Center) incorporate community-based learning into their programs. However, while internships are coordinated by Student Services, community-based learning in the curriculum has largely been an individual rather than an institutional effort. Evergreen made two institutional efforts to incorporate community-based learning into the curriculum: the Evergreen Center for Community Development (1983-85) and a year-long program funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service in the early 1990s. Both of these initiatives failed due to lack of long-term funding. Since then, Evergreen, except for on-going efforts at the Tacoma Campus and sustained past efforts in the Reservation-Based program, has made no sustained institutional effort to incorporate community-based learning into academic programs.
This Community-Based Learning DTF met in the 1997-98 academic year and continues its work in 1998-1999. Last year a DTF survey of faculty indicated that:
71% of respondents saw a need for assistance in making appropriate connections to local community groups and a need for a center to help prepare and support their students for community-based work.
61% of faculty saw a need to establish on-going collaborative partnerships with selected community organizations. 14
The DTF believes that systematic support of community-based learning is crucial.
As an institution we acknowledge the importance of community-based learning in the Tacoma and Tribal programs, our internship program, and in some of the work of the public service centers. But Evergreen's academic programs on the Olympia campus receive little to no support. We already do community-based learning. We should fully claim it and support it as part of our institutional mission.
We need to support community-based learning so that we can build a public body of community-based practice at Evergreen.
We need an institutional memory of the historical importance of community-based learning to Evergreen's curriculum and a permanent means of helping faculty promote community-based learning in academic programs. Our past efforts have been isolated individual efforts by highly committed faculty and staff. After an enormous expenditure of time in planning, establishing community partnerships, linking students and community and carrying out and evaluating projects, too often the community partnership lapses, and the project disappears from our memory. Community-based learning requires continuity in order to truly benefit the college and community. We need to build and deepen long-term relationships with community organizations.
14. Community-Based Learning DTF, Research and Findings, May 1998.
The five foci of Evergreen's pedagogy and curriculum (interdisciplinary study, personal engagement in learning, linking theory and practice, collaborative work, and teaching across significant differences) are also integral to community-based learning. Our faculty and students have consistently integrated community-based learning or other forms of community service into their academic programs and personal lives. The DTF study found that:
- In a typical year over 800 students earn credit through internships.
- 46% of faculty respondents said they include community-based projects in their curriculum.
- 68% of faculty respondents include other forms of community service, such as service projects or volunteer work, in their programs.
- 90% of faculty respondents and 95% of staff respondents are involved in community service work.
- 88% of respondents indicated an interest in having their community service work acknowledged and supported by the college. 15
The DTF survey and Evergreen's history demonstrate a substantial commitment to community service in academic programs and personal lives of faculty and staff.
15. Community Community-based learning DTF Report, May 1998.
6. What We Learned from Faculty, Staff, Students and Community Organizations
In addition to surveying faculty and staff, the DTF met with the academic deans, the vice presidents, the public service center directors, the planning unit coordinators, the planning units, a faculty focus group, a community focus group, a student focus group, other colleges with community-based programs, and Ed Zlotkowski, AAHE's Service Learning Senior Fellow. Here are summaries of what we heard from the planning units, students, and community organizations.
Faculty in the planning units told us:
- "We do a lot of this already," but we know little about one another's work, and we do not make effective connections that result in enduring projects. We very much need support in making community contacts, sustaining them, planning, training and negotiating projects.
- A center would be a positive force which would help faculty share and develop resources.
- We want the center to be a place where faculty "want to go" not "have to go."
- The center could help build responsible efforts at community-based learning.
- Planning units could provide faculty representatives to the center to provide on-going links between the center and the planning units.
- The center should be located in academics.
- The center could help faculty deal with "problem" internships.
- Stronger support for effective faculty mentoring of interns is needed.
- The center could serve as a grant writing and fundraising mechanism for community-based learning.
Evergreen student peer advisors told us:
- Before it was explained, we didn't have a clear idea of what "community-based learning" was.
- "We avoid classes with service or internship components because when weíve done that here itís been so poorly planned and organized by the faculty."
- "Not serving a real community need and not having the service meaningfully integrated into the class has turned me off to community-based learning."
- "I didn't see the need for a class community service project up front. I recognized the value of it afterward. I couldn't have anticipated the value. I'm glad to have done it. We realized the impact we had was amazing."
Staff told us:
- The college should recognize and reward community service being done by staff.
- The college should advertise the needs of community service groups to staff.
- The college should encourage staff to participate in on and off campus activities.
Community oranizations told us:
Representatives of twelve community organizations met with us to discuss community-based learning at Evergreen. They represented the following organizations: Olympia School District (L.P. Brown School), Crisis Clinic of Thurston/Mason Counties, Bread and Roses, Wa. State Department of Corrections (Shelton Correctional Center), Thurston County (Thurston County Administrative Services), City of Olympia (Water Resources), Traditions Fair Trade, Sustainable Community Roundtable, YMCA Earthservice Corps, Wa. State Department of Ecology, Santo Thomas County Association, SPEECH, and Kitchen Garden Project.
- All twelve representatives unanimously endorsed the establishment of a community-based learning center at Evergreen.
- Evergreen could do a better job of finding out what opportunities exist in the community.
- A central point of contact is needed for community organizations interested in working with Evergreen faculty and students.
- It would be helpful for Evergreen faculty and staff to visit Olympia public schools to find out whatís going on in public education.
- More faculty supervision of students is needed.
- Over and over, community organizations mentioned the need for continuity in support for community-based learning. They have all had experience with interns or programs that were here one year and gone the next. This is a major worry. The Department of Corrections, for example, lavishly complimented Patrick Hill and his students, who are working with inmates at Shelton doing program readings and seminars at the prison. Working with the program has been "a delightful experience." They told us that the process of educating their own organization about working with the education of inmates in innovative ways is an immense and discouraging labor. Continuity is extremely important to them.
- There is sometimes conflict between community and academic needs.
Both community organizations and the college need to do a better job laying out goals, timelines and expectations.
- Bread and Roses' "dream" is to work with a group of students to set up and run an after-school tutoring program for kids. Bread and Roses emphasized that continuity would be needed for such a project. Their comments indicated that better faculty support was needed for students doing community-based work.
- The City of Olympia representative said it could be very exciting to work with academic programs, and that careful planning would be needed to ensure that both community and academic goals are met.
- "When there's not continuity in community-college relationships, we have to do the whole education process in our own organizations and with the college all over again."
- "Evergreen's out there with all those resources and the community's here with all these needs. We need to get together."
7. A Few Recent Examples of Community-Based Learning at Evergreen
Evergreen's Tacoma campus has as its motto: "Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve." Every senior at the Tacoma campus is required to complete a public service project as a condition of graduation.
The reservation-based, community-determined program has required students to complete a community service project on their reservations. Projects have ranged from drug and alcohol intervention, to organizing community festivals, to writing and presenting tribal histories.
In the Evening and Weekend Studies program "Shaping a Nation," John McCann and Susan Preciso required students to complete a community-based learning project and present results in a paper and a presentation to the class. Projects ranged from working to pass a school levy in Shelton, to a history project for sixth grade children, to formulating a policy for at-risk youth for the City of Lacey.
Heesoon Junís ìMulticultural Counselingî program places senior students with community mental health organizations to gain valuable experience linking theory with practice.
Peta Henderson, Greg Weeks and Stephanie Coontz teach "Family, Community and Public Policy," which places students in spring quarter internships in Garfield elementary school, and in regional social and public policy agencies.
Patrick Hill's students are currently working with inmates at the Shelton Correctional Center. Inmates read the same material as Evergreen students, and they seminar together. A representative of the Department of Corrections said that the program is of inestimable value for both inmates and students.
Last year, Carol Minugh's students and Evergreen First People's staff worked with inmates at the Maple Lane School. They provided tutoring, seminars on cross-cultural understanding, and enrolled several inmates as Evergreen students.
Nancy Parkes Turner's and Chris May's students in the program "The Face of Salmon: Northwest Ecology, Culture and Public Policy," developed salmon conservation legislation which is currently before the Legislature.
Students sponsored by the Labor Education and Research Center have developed training programs for unions, written published histories of the Machinists' Lodge at Boeing and the Washington State Firefighters' unions, and organized conferences for trade unionists.
When Doug Schuler taught "Meet the New Medium," he developed a "cyber-service" project in which students worked with members of the community. Some students taught computer skills to seniors and youths. Others worked on web pages for Olympia area elementary schools.
In "Participatory Community-Based Research," (Spring 1998), Carol Minugh, Lin Nelson and students were co-learners with citizens of Shelton in weekly classes held in the Shelton Library and a public school. Students joined with local organizations to work on projects and to jointly research community needs and assets. After this program ended, Minugh and Nelson learned about a 1998-99 program. "Natural Histories: Botany, Biography and Community," taught by Frederica Bowcutt, Sam Schrager and Matt Smith, who were able to sustain some connections established in the earlier program.
Academic programs taught by Terry Setter, Sean Williams and Ariel Goldberger have participated in Olympiaís Procession of the Species celebration as part of their studies.
Environmental Studies students, through internships, contracts and program-based projects, have forged positive and effective ties with a range of organizations including the Sustainable Community Roundtable in Olympia, the Salishan Community and the Urban League in Tacoma, Columbia-Pacific Resource Conservation and Development in Aberdeen, and the Community Right-to-Know project at the Department of Ecology.
Dharshi Bopegedera and E. J. Zita have been vitally involved in supporting science education among K-12 students.
8. A Few Examples of Community-Based Learning at Other Colleges
The Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University Chicago conducts participatory research projects in partnership with community groups, commonly involving a team of Loyola faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students. Their work has been very impressive. Some examples: studies of the impact of welfare reform on Chicago citizens, a project to evaluate residential security in low-income housing developments, research on barriers to viable, quality home child care in a Chicago neighborhood, a project to evaluate an effort to decrease the incidence of HIV infection among participants in a Cook County Sheriffís program, a project to establish and maintain a school-based health center for Latino children.
At Bentley University, Ed Zlotkowski, a professor of literature, asks his students reading King Lear to volunteer at a hospice for homeless men. "They learned what Lear went through, what it meant to be friendless and lonely. It made a tremendous difference in their ability to relate to and understand the play. I donít think that would have happened if theyíd not had the powerful experience of talking with, feeding and listening to those men. The contexts in which we learn are so important."
At Cornell, art professor Doug Hanson has fifteen years of experience using art therapy to work with incarcerated individuals. In spring of 1998 in a course on drawing and ceramics, Hanson and seventeen students worked with inmates from the Anamosa State Prison on an art project which connected both communities. Students and prisoners designed and fired ceramic tiles which would later be used to create two large murals at the prison and at the college. Half of the studentsí work was used in the mural at the prison, and half of the prisoners' work was used in the mural at the college. 16
In a partnership with the low-income southwest central area of Durham, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is opening a storefront Community Outreach Partnership Center. As one major focus of empowerment efforts, law students from the university will provide free counseling on consumer credit and legal information on fair housing to community residents.
A mathematician's livelihood consists of solving problems. It isn't a far stretch to translate this into efforts to help communities solve real-life problems. Students who took "Mathematical Modeling and Differential Equations" at Augsburg College split into two groups that partnered with a school district and an environmental organization to do a collaborative research project with the community. Students chose their projects after presentations by community members. Those working with the school district created more effective and efficient options for the school busing system. Those working with the environmental organization analyzed data to show connections between toxicity and specific neighborhoods, information which was then used by the organization.
In the northwest, the University of Washington, Western Washington University and Portland State have large and successful community-based learning initiatives. There are many national membership organizations (like AAHE) which promote community-based learning, and organizations like the Loka Institute and Highlander which center their work in community-based learning and research.
16 This paragraph and the two following are taken more or less verbatim from Michael Rothman, ed., Service Matters, Campus Compact Lessons from the Field, 1998.
9. Enduring Issues for Future Work
In this report, the DTF has described the past and present situation regarding community-based learning at Evergreen. We believe that our recommendations to the faculty ñ making community-based learning an explicit component of the collegeís mission, and forming a small center for community-based learning ñ would strongly advance integrating community-based learning into our academic programs.
In making our recommendations, we also described the scope of work for our proposed center. Some aspects of that work strike us as particularly important in the implications they have for the college.
First, the question of academic program planning and continuity of relationships with community organizations will need concentrated attention. We need to find ways to ensure that good relationships and outstanding work done by programs do not simply disappear after one year of work. We donít have all the answers. We do feel that a center can give this issue sustained attention which we believe would result in long-term, effective partnerships between academic programs and community organizations.
Second, we need to devote some innovative thinking to the question of how we coordinate the work of the planning units, academic advising, and our internship program. Over time, faculty members rotating into the center would promote integration of community-based learning into program planning. Representatives of academic advising and planning units on a center advisory board would also contribute to a strong relationship.
Third, we need to find effective ways to pass on our collective wisdom regarding community-based learning to each other, and particularly to new faculty and staff.
Finally, we need to create a responsive point of contact between academic programs and faculty and community organizations without creating unrealistic expectations on either side. We would need to carefully plan our mutual commitments.
We think these four issues would constitute much our future work in community-based learning. The DTF believes that the rewards of this work would be tremendous, resulting in a curriculum well-grounded in community-based learning, improved student learning and retention, and greatly more favorable view of the college by the community.
10. Frequently Asked Questions
Don't we already do community-based learning at Evergreen? As our survey indicates, many faculty have used community-based learning as part of their programs. Some faculty have regularly incorporated community-based learning into their academic programs. Other faculty ñ with less frequency - make community-based learning a part of their programs. About 50% of the approximately 800 internships our student do each year grow from academic programs and incorporate significant reflection. Other public outreach initiatives at Evergreen complement academic programs in the collegeís overall effect upon our surrounding community. The following drawing presents community-based learning as one of several outreach strategies at Evergreen:
There's no question we do community-based learning, but as an institution our efforts are not sustained. Our community relationships (for the most part) do not last past the life of a particular academic program.
In an important article, Barbara Holland, of Portland State University, presents a chart which helps colleges determine their level of commitment to community-based learning, or, as Hollands calls it, "service." If we consider community-based learning within academic programs, and analyze our level of commitment according to Hollandís chart, most of us would say that community-based learning currently has low relevance at Evergreen. The DTF feels strongly that we need to do a better job. We recommend that the Strategic Planning DTF utilize this model when examining and exploring the role of community-based learning in Evergreen's strategic plan.
Levels of Commitment to Service, Characterized by Key Organizational Factors
Evidencing Relevance to Institutional Mission17
17 Barbara Holland, "Analyzing Institutional Commitment to Service: A Model of Key Organizational Factors," Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Fall 1997.
Doesn't this just add another layer of bureaucracy? Emphatically no. The community-based learning center would exist only to help faculty implement community-based learning. If anything, the center would make negotiating the bureaucracy of college and community easier by assuming much of the burden which usually falls on individual faculty members. Helping faculty incorporate community-based learning would be the only reason for the center's existence. The centerís mission would be to support and facilitate community-based learning, not to regulate it or require it.
Doesn't this mean more work? Community-based learning does take a lot of work - to establish and maintain relationships, to mesh with other program content, to supervise students, to evaluate. As things are now, with no support for academic programs, there's no question that incorporating community-based learning adds significantly to the work of delivering an academic program. The DTF strongly believes that the small center we propose could and would relieve faculty of some of the "extra" work of making community-based learning a part of programs by being available to help plan projects, make links with community organizations, offer help with assessment, and offer history of previous work with community organizations. The center would make and maintain relationships with community groups, run summer institutes "matching" faculty and community organizations, assist faculty in thinking through projects and activities, and assist faculty in evaluating community-based learning by students. The DTF also believes that the work of academic programs is not a zero sum game. Community-based learning is not something that is simply piled on top of all the other work we do. Community-based learning enriches our repertoire of learning activities and strategies.
The Community-Based Learning DTF respectfully submits our report and recommendations to the faculty.
Members of the DTF:
Carol Minugh, Doranne Crable, Elizabeth OíNeill, Jacinta McKoy, Tom Rainey, Jackie McClure, Jean MacGregor, John McCann, Kitty Parker, Larry Geri, Lin Nelson, Rebecca Bauen, Russ Fox (chair), Stephanie Kozick, Bonita Evans
Doranne Crable, Betsy Diffendal, Tom Rainey, Doug Schuler, Bonita Evans, Russ Fox, Larry Geri, Peta Henderson, Jacinta McKoy (co-chair), Stephanie Kozick, Jean MacGregor, John McCann, Carol Minugh, Lin Nelson (co-chair), Kitty Parker, Tara Galuska, Chad Odwazny, Michelle Payne