Service Learning Academy
Service-Learning is a structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and critical reflection. It is both a philosophy and a teaching methodology rooted in the educational theories of John Dewey and Paulo Freire. Its primary tenet is that social responsibility and the experience of education are inextricably linked. Students engaged in SL provide community service in response to community identified concerns and learn about the context in which service is provided, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their role as citizens.
The Mission of the Service Learning Academy (SLA) is to facilitate inter-professional and interdisciplinary public health learning experiences in local, regional, national and international communities. Activities developed through the Academy strive to address community-identified priorities, advance community health, enhance learning, and foster civic engagement among community members, students, staff and faculty.
The Role of the SLA is to act as a clearinghouse for Service-Learning resources at the UNMC, advocating for a greater integration of meaningful service to the community into course curricula as a key component of an innovative and civically engaged education. The SLA staff works to support Service-Learning across all academic departments by providing resources, support, and information to faculty, students, administrators and community partners.
The SLA is developing the infrastructure needed to facilitate sustainable Service-Learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate public health students and other students in the health professions at UNMC. It is a resource and vehicle for students to connect with community partners to complete their SL course requirements, in a way that respects community needs.
Over 60 local and regional partnerships were developed in the past decade by the MPH for SL/Capstone sites. The SLA is responsible for sustain existing, and developing new partnerships, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Goals of the SLA
- Increase Awareness for service learning among UNMC's students, faculty and staff, including the development and dissemination of a uniform service learning definition, used consistently to operationalize aspects of service learning.
- Increase Leadership Capacity and Expertise in service learning among students, faculty, community partners, and institutional leaders, by providing organized, relevant, timely education, training, and curricula development.
- Engage new and foster existing Partnerships with community-based organizations based on mutual trust, respect, cultural awareness, and good communication.
- Develop community-engaged Scholarships that will benefit the institution, faculty, students, and community.
- Develop capacity for implementation and Sustainability of service learning activities, and provide expert support and technical assistance needed to implement various service learning activities.