What is Service Learning?
Service learning (SL) is a form of experiential learning in which volunteer community service is integrated with structured lectures, readings, discussions, and reflection activities, the goal of which 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.
SL students work closely with the UC Center for Community Engagement to identify appropriate community organizations that are in need of volunteer service. The students will then be challenged to draw upon the knowledge they have obtained throughout their coursework to conduct a needs assessment for the agency and to develop a community service proposal that will be executed by the student for the duration of the course.
Throughout the semester, implementation of the project aims 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 are required to take a two-semester capstone that can be either in the form of a SL experience (MEDS 5050/5051, Health & Community: Service-Learning Capstone) or a biomedical research experience (MEDS 5030/5031). Students interested in SL but not enrolled in the Medical Sciences Major can take a one-semester course in SL (MEDS 3050, Health & Community: Service-Learning Rotation).
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?