Service Learning At SWOSU
History and Mission
SWOSU’s Service Learning program from 2004 to the present has experienced some remarkable firsts, such as a student and a faculty member attending the first ever Campus Compact Service Learning Institute centered on course re-design, moving an existing course into configuration with a significant Service Learning component. The Institute in Jan. 2005 at OSU paired faculty and students as equal designers of the course. Connections made at that conference led to a request by Dr. Edward Zlotkowski, the premier speaker and writer on Service Learning issues, to host a regional conference at SWOSU. President John Hays readily agreed, and the regional conference happened on Oct. 6, with attendees from all over the state. A significant part of the program was based on SWOSU SL projects and the comments of participants—students and community partners.
Following the model of another institution discussed at a Campus Compact workshop, the SL director organized a Service Learning Summit Breakfast which brought together potential community partners, interested faculty and administration. Numerous projects and connections resulted. The focus was informing the community of resources available and assessing the needs of the community.
Since that time, a Service Learning website has been created, and annually the Director reports all of SWOSU’s community engagement data to National Campus Compact. Evaluation forms are now available online for students and community partners to use for evaluating our Service Learning projects. During the most recent Higher Learning Commission visit to campus concerning accreditation matters, the SL Director reported data and trends to the visiting committee related to Criterion 5 from HLC.
Dr. Sophia Lee, SWOSU Professor of Music with a special focus in music therapy, was nominated for the 2013 National Campus Compact Erlich Award for excellence in Service Learning programming within her discipline.
The Director of Service Learning and SWOSU professors from all disciplines continue to promote service learning initiatives by attending Campus Compact workshops, presenting research projects, and designing faculty development programs.
Objectives for the future of Service Learning at SWOSU:
- To enable and encourage faculty, students, and community partners to participate in regular assessment of our SL programs and their part in that process;
- To set up a standing university committee for engagement on campus, including community partners and students ;
- To ensure that in every discipline there is at least one required course with a Service Learning component;
- To reward and encourage regular SL teachers at least with release time for planning or oversight, if the SL component is extensive;
- To reward students at graduation for their SL activities and to nominate them for regional/national SL awards;
- To reward outstanding SL faculty by nominating them for regional/national awards, such as the Erlich Award.