What is Service Learning?
Service learning (SL) is a form of experiential learning in which volunteer community service is integrated with faculty-directed lectures, readings, discussions, and reflection activities. The of SL is to use a real-world setting to help students refine their skills in problem solving, critical thinking, data analysis, civic and ethical responsibility, and interpersonal development.
Prior to the start of the semester, the SL student works with the UC Center for Community Engagement to identify a community organization of interest to the student. The student will then be challenged to work with their community partner to conduct a needs assessment for the agency and to develop a community service proposal that will be implemented by the student over the duration of the course.
Throughout the semester, volunteer service will be paired with opportunities for individual reflection, guest lectures on volunteer service from faculty and community partners, and opportunities for communicating project outcome to faculty, community members and peers. Working with diverse and marginalized populations as part of the SL experience informs both student learning and future practice, which helps students meet the challenges of their chosen career path.
Service Learning in the Curriculum
Students in the Medical Sciences major can participate in service-learning opportunities in two ways:
- Health & Community: Service-Learning Rotation (MEDS3050) is a one-semester course designed to provide an SL experience to students interested in health-related careers. The course is also open to students outside of the medical sciences major, with permission of the course directors
- Health & Community: Service-Learning Capstone 1 and 2 (MEDS5050, MEDS5051) is a two-semester capstone experience restricted to students in the medical sciences major. Medical Sciences majors must select either the SL capstone or the biomedical research capstone (MEDS5030, MEDS5031). Since the skills necessary for success in biomedical research and community engagement are both relevant to careers in healthcare, medical sciences students who intend to participate in the the biomedical research capstone are encouraged to also take a one-semester SL experience as an elective. Conversely, those who intend to take the SL capstone are encouraged to take a one-semester biomedical research experience as an elective.
The Center for Community Engagement suggests students consider the following to get started:
- How do you define "service"?
- Why do you want to get involved?
- What do you hope to gain from this experience?
- What do you care about? What “out there” makes you proud, excited, angry, scared, fired up, inspired?
- What good things do you see going on in our community? What do you want to be a part of?
- What are you good at? What skills, talents, gifts do you bring to those around you? (Think outside the box!)
- How much time do you want to give per week? For how long (one quarter, all school year, just once)? What times of the day and week are you available? Think about classes, work schedules, homework and study time, other commitments. Where will your volunteering fit in?
- Do you have a car? Do you know how to use the bus system? Are you looking to carpool with other UC students? Do you need to find a service site within walking or biking distance?
- Do you want to volunteer as part of a group or with a friend?