What is "service learning" and what does it look like at Behrend?
Our program defines "service learning" as: a form of experiential education that combines intentional learning goals with meaningful service and reflection to enrich the learning experience, promote student growth, and positively impact the community.
There are two established ways that Behrend engages with service learning:
- Through student and faculty directed research and projects.
- Through service learning courses, offered through our Minor in Civic and Community Engagement.
Service in the Classroom
Service learning is an excellent way to enrich classroom experiences by combining learning goals with service. There’s unlimited potential to serve, both locally and globally.
We encourage students to take initiative and gear their research or projects in the classroom to the world outside of the classroom by addressing a real-world issue or providing a service for a community.
There are so many great examples of faculty members using service learning to enrich their classroom experiences by combining learning goals with service. Students are encouraged, and sometimes required, to volunteer through a service learning project or community outreach program as part of their class participation. Take a look through some of the profiles of past projects:
Students in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences host an annual Gender Conference at Behrend.
Partnership Erie, an outreach program through the Black School of Business at Behrend, provides nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania an opportunity to launch an online presence without the significant expense of hiring and IT staff and technical consultation. They aim to "provide the students opportunities to apply their knowledge to real business problems, to offer our faculty expertise to benefit the business and nonprofit community, and to positively impact organizational goals and growth through innovative projects." They most recently redesigned the City of Erie's website.
Behrend students in the Accounting practicum VITA ACCTG 411 with Lecturer in Management Bob Patterson, served as volunteer tax preparers with Erie Free Taxes, a United Way of Erie County program. In order to qualify to assist Erie's citizens with their taxes, student are trained in the appropriate software and must pass IRS exam. Read about the program.
Former Behrend Sustainability Coordinator, Ann Quinn, helped launch the Weed Warriors program in Behrend's Wintergreen Gorge with two student groups: Greener Behrend and Alpha Phi Omega, as well as students working for class credit, and students with a background in biology, GPS, and ArcGIS. The Weed Warriors were able to identify and remove the most pervasive plant species found in Wintergreen Gorge. Watch a video about the project.
The purpose of Wintergreen Media is to contribute to the success of area non-profit organizations through the production of effective communication deliverables created by Penn State Behrend Communication majors. They provide the students with professional communication-related experience working with real clients.
Community Caring, CAS 100 Honors course students are tasked with giving individual speeches, volunteering at a local nonprofit, and producing a 4-5 minute video on that organization. During the semester, the class collects money in a class piggy bank, and the collected money is awarded to the organization of the group with the most persuasive presentation (voted upon by the class). View their video on the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Bike Program.
Behend Campus Garden and Urban Erie Community Development Corporation collaborated as part of the CIVCM Minor introduction course. Read more in the article "Penn State Behrend, UECDC Partner to Educate Students About Rain Gardens."
The Mentor Project at Penn State Behrend works with local schools and education sites to promote positive youth development by forming lasting relationships between Erie youth and trained mentors. CORE also offers various training and booster sessions to support local efforts in helping Erie youth.
Service Through the Minor in Civic and Community Engagement
For more information on Penn State Behrend’s innovative service learning courses, visit our page on the Minor in Civic and Community Engagement (CIVCM). The CIVCM minor is available to students in almost any major and offers opportunities to extend education beyond the classroom by contributing to socially meaningful public scholarship.