A Week of Service

February 08, 2011

There are 13 events planned for the second annual Service Learning Awareness Week.

Next week, GW students, faculty and alumni can choose from more than a dozen events in the second annual Service Learning Awareness Week, including a lecture on the institutional rewards of service learning from University of Maryland professor KerryAnn O’Meara and a discussion of “culturally competent” partnerships sponsored by the Black Student Union.

The events of the week, from Feb. 14 to 18, represent an important way to connect scholars and individuals who are involved in service learning, according to Nik Sushka, academic service learning coordinator at the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.

According to Amy Cohen, executive director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, service learning enriches the learning experience, develops civic responsibility and strengthens communities by combining meaningful community service with academic study and reflection.

“Service learning leverages scholarship to support understanding and solve pressing social, civic and ethical problems,” she says. “Our students and faculty create a cycle of discovery when they apply academic theory and skills to real world problem solving, further refining theory and developing more effective community action.”

According to Ms. Cohen, the university is offering 39 service learning courses this academic year. 

“GW, like many research institutions, is working to grow service learning and engaged scholarship in an increasing effort to better prepare students for active citizenship in our diverse democracy and to develop knowledge for the improvement of communities and society,” she says. “Service Learning Awareness Week is an opportunity for faculty to highlight the community-engaged scholarship they are doing.”

Ms. Sushka, who convened the committee last fall that helped plan the events of the week, says Service Learning Awareness Week allows members of the GW community to  “learn from and celebrate each other’s work.”

“We have people across the university engaged in service learning through their courses, programs and community-based scholarships every year, but we don’t always know what everyone else is doing,” she says.

The week, which is co-sponsored by the Office of Community Service and several academic and student services departments, culminates with the deadline for applications for the Knapp Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Service-Learning.

“The fellowship allows students to turn their passion and creative ideas about solving problems in the real world into action,” says Ms. Cohen. “Students with a big and innovative idea about how to make a difference to a social or environmental issue should apply for the fellowship.”

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