Service-Learning Classes Teach Duquesne Students to Impact Community
As a key part of Duquesne University's core curriculum, service-learning courses provide more than a way for students to learn practical ways of giving back-they are a means to use new-found classroom skills while making an impact on others' lives.
"People may assume that service-learning is limited to direct service such as litter pick-up," said Dr. Lina Dostilio, director of academic and community engagement in the Office of Service-Learning. "But as you can see, the majority of our students work with their community partners to implement very sophisticated projects."
Service-learning combines academics, meaningful service and critically reflective thinking to promote learning and civic responsibility. This fall, more than 1,500 students enrolled in service-learning classes, most requiring 20-30 hours in:
- Nonprofit organization capacity building: helping to generate strategic plans, develop websites, advertising/marketing
- Health, wellness and safety: providing clinical services, nutrition classes, improving overall community health and safety
- Advocacy and political engagement: voter registration, advocating for legislative change
- K-12 tutoring/mentoring: providing academic remediation or ongoing mentoring to students
- Direct human services: providing food, clothing or shelter, as well as connecting people to human services
- Increasing access to the arts: musical or dramatic performances, rehabilitating cultural landmarks
- Intercultural dialogue: English language instruction, serving as cultural guides to refugee families
- Training and workforce development: life skills programs, computer classes, resume assistance, financial literacy training
- Policy/community research: conducting community-driven research and analyzing policy.
Class service-learning projects are as diverse as the organizations and communities they engage. For example, seniors from Dr. Eva Simms' psychology classes have been helping residents of Mount Washington to reinvent Emerald View Park, a once-neglected green space. Residents worked closely with students and faculty to create a park that not only enhanced lives in a low-income neighborhood but helped to empower residents by allowing their voices to be heard.
"The relationship between community agency partners, faculty and students is a valuable teaching and learning experience that has significant benefit for the community," Dostilio said. "It helps to develop our students as citizens and change agents, no matter their professional aspirations."