Service Learning and Public Pedagogy Course Components
My approach to teaching values the kind of learning that happens when students engage with public issues and interact with local community groups. This course prompts you to actively engage your role as an academic citizen, and we will discuss what it means to apply your college-based learning to public contexts. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to experience being an academic citizen by engaging in a service-learning project.
Service learning is a type of teaching that partners teachers and students with community groups; students often provide their services through volunteering and/or producing materials for an organization, and, in doing so, students have the benefits of a realistic context in which to apply their learning, the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from professionals, and the prospect of positively contributing to the local community. In short, knowledge is much more powerful when connected with experience, and the service-learning component of this course will enable you to develop and apply your writing within a broader community context than simply your college class or university campus.
In terms of your work for and experiences in the course, the service-learning component means that you will likely spend a portion of your time visiting and/or working with a local organization. The work that you do for the organization will connect with the assignments for the course; in other words, this is not simply a “tacked on” component that will result in extra work.
Finally, having taught service-learning classes in the past, I can assure you that there will be many unknowns. I will not be able to tell you exactly how your experiences and assignments will unfold because they will develop through your experiences with our community partners. The unknowns of the process can be disconcerting for some students, but, as long as you keep an open line of communication with me and your community partner, we will be able to work through things so that you can succeed in the course assignments. The content of this course and what you can expect to learn are no different than a traditional classroom-based version of this course. However, by participating in service learning, you will have a realistic context and occasion for your writing and, I expect, a more meaningful academic experience.