Last fall, Lourdes implemented a new institution-wide initiative requiring students seeking a Bachelor's degree to complete 20 hours of service learning, and students seeking an Associate's degree to complete 10 hours.
Community Service vs. Service Learning
Service learning takes community service a step further by connecting it to course content. In order for an initiative to count toward a student's service learning hours, it must meet the following criteria:
- The activity must serve a community agency or organization
- The activity must meet an unmet need
- The activity must provide a reflective learning component that ties it to the academic curriculum
Like other forms of community service, service learning is very diverse. "It doesn't follow a specific format and can greatly vary from course to course, depending on the subject matter," says Sister Barbara Vano, OSF, Director of Campus Ministry & Service Learning.
"For example, at Lourdes our nursing students helped residents at Safe Haven plant a vegetable garden, using the opportunity to teach them about healthy food choices and to get to know their clients on a more human level. Our Business Ethics students taught lessons about good citizenship and entrepreneurship to local schools through Junior Achievement. These activities are very different from one another, but both count as service learning because each meets the three required criteria."
Learn more about Lourdes University's new service learning curriculum requirement, and the history of its service learning initiative, in the print edition!