Committee Working to Formalize Service Learning at U of A

Initiative aims to organize, increase opportunities for students, faculty

Thursday, September 04, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas is working to increase and organize opportunities for students and faculty to take part in programs that both teach and serve   community needs. The U of A Service Learning Initiative is a joint effort by the Office of the Provost, the Honors College and the Division of Student Affairs, and represents a partnership between academic and student affairs.

“Service learning is a vital component of any great academic experience,” said Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It is important for students and faculty to be able to take what they are learning into the community and apply it to improve real-life situations.

“The University of Arkansas has several excellent service learning programs, some through individual colleges, some through study abroad. This initiative is aimed at coordinating these types of programs, establishing protocols to ensure that our service learning activities align with the mission and standards of the university, and to facilitate the creation of more of these opportunities.”

Among the current service learning programs at the U of A are the Mozambique service learning study abroad; the Belize service learning study abroad; the Lunch Buddies service learning program; the biliteracy tutoring service learning program; the TEXT program service learning; and the nonprofit marketing service learning program.

The provost appointed a Service Learning Committee in May to map out the goals of the initiative. The committee is co-chaired by Jennie Popp, professor of agriculture and agribusiness in the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, and Angela Oxford, director of the Center for Community Engagement. The committee includes faculty, staff and students representing the full range of academic resources on campus.

“Service Learning strengthens students’ knowledge as well as their sense of civic responsibility,” said Popp. “It has been very exciting to work with this committee to provide a framework that enables students to apply their academic course work to community-based activities, helping real people in real situations who would not get this assistance otherwise.”

The committee has developed a proposed definition of service learning and a proposed set of criteria that all service learning courses should meet. Both can be found at the newly launched U of A Service Learning website. The proposals are currently under review.

In addition, the committee is working to identify service learning enhancement opportunities for faculty, such as providing travel awards for faculty members to attend the Gulf South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in Little Rock.

The Service Learning website is also intended to provide information and opportunities for faculty, students and community partners. Faculty and staff interested in contributing to the discussion or in receiving more information regarding the committee’s activities can join the new service learning listserv by contacting Morgan Atwood at maatwood@uark.edu.

In addition to co-chairs Popp and Oxford, the committee members are:

  • Greg Herman, associate professor of architecture, Fay Jones School of Architecture
  • Casey Kayser, visiting assistant professor of English, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
  • Fran Hagstrom, assistant dean for health professions, College of Education and Health Professions
  • G. Scott Osborn, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, College of Engineering
  • John Pijanowski, professor of curriculum and instruction, Teaching and Faculty Support Center
  • Jeff Miller, professor of agricultural education, communications and technology  Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
  • Molly Jensen, clinical associate professor of marketing, Sam M Walton College of Business
  • Meredith McKee, HEI program coordinator, Office of Study Abroad
  • Carol Gattis, associate dean, Honors College
  • Angela M. Doss, instructor, School of Law
  • Lora Lennertz, director, academic and research services, University Libraries
  • Morgan Atwood, service learning graduate assistant

Contacts:

Jennie Popp, co-chair
Service Learning Committee
479-575-2279, jhpopp@uark.edu

Angela Oxford, co-chair
Service Learning Committee
479-575-4365, afoxford@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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