PSU students can now add a service-learning certificate to their studies that enables them to have a better understanding of how to connect learning to the community.The certificate consists of an 18-credit series of courses that focuses on providing sound philosophical, theoretical, and experiential preparation in service-learning and community engagement. It is intended for those who teach, coordinate, or research learning through community involvement with college students.
The certificate is offered online and compliments an additional service-learning certificate intended for teachers in K-12 education. Both are administered by Continuing Education.
The new Service-Learning in Higher Education certificate already gets high marks from enthusiastic participants who have been working on projects from as far away as India and the Congo.
These are examples of two service-learning projects in which PSU students are involved.
LSE student organizes project for Children’s Book Bank
Service-learning activities span the imagination. While environmental and garden projects are popular, PSU students find other creative ways to work in service.
Cassie Korneder, a Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) master’s student in the certificate program, is working with local nonprofit, The Children’s Book Bank on a service-learning project. This project was designed to increase literacy for young children in the Metro area and raise awareness of childhood poverty.
The Children’s Book Bank is focused on providing children in the lowest economic sectors of our community with age-appropriate books to help reinforce reading skills outside of school. In Portland’s more affluent neighborhoods, a ratio of 45 books per child is average, whereas in poor neighborhoods, there is a ratio of one book per 300 children.
As an elementary teacher at a west-side school, Cassie Korneder created the Leading for Reading project for the Book Bank because she wanted the opportunity to work with older students. The high school students planned and executed a successful book drive and completed all facets of the project from organizing to distribution. By creating this project, Ms. Korneder challenged them to get involved in their communities while helping to support young readers. The students became more fully aware of childhood poverty issues, and learned leadership and project management skills.
“I wanted to be able to invest time and energy in a project that would make a difference,” says Ms. Korneder. Now that she knows how to set up a project, she will be able to successfully replicate it in the future. She has completed her 20-30 required hours for the service-learning project and is a continuing supporter of the Book Bank.
Students gain service experience in India
Students also have the option of choosing an international project. In February 2010, 10 students traveled to Lady Doak College in India for a service-learning experience. Read more about the project here.
Charisse Jolliff is a program coordinator for Western Oregon University’s Judicial Affairs and Service Learning and Career Development department. She has a master’s degree from PSU and has also recently completed both Student Services and Service-Learning certificates. She wanted to have a strong background in service in order to administer service-learning programs at WOU. “My trip to India was a great way for me to understand how I could better prepare my students for international service trips that they go on,” she says. “My experience in India will forever have an impact on my life.”
Ms. Jolliff was deeply moved by her experiences in India. She worked in an orphanage with the most vulnerable children who she claims forever changed her life. “These children loved each of us every single day regardless of the fact that we would probably not be back the next day,” she says. She would love to return someday, perhaps with her own group of students.