Service-Learning & Civic Engagement


Faculty Service-Learning Committee
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Registrar’s Conference Room, 12 PM

Meeting was called to order by Earl Mulderink at 12:06 PM. In attendance: Steve Barney (HSS), Pam Branin (CSD), Jason Clyde (Student), Neal Cox (Student Services), Briget Eastep (EDU), Mark Grover (SCI), Larry Johnson (PVA), Blair McDonald (CIET), Matt Nickerson (LIB & Honors Program), Karl Stevens (SCPS). Excused: Denise Woodbury (BUS).

Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the meeting of February 28, 2007, were approved without changes.

Reporting as Chair, Earl Mulderink shared information from Melissa Miller Kincart, Executive Director of the Utah Campus Compact, reminding us to follow up on our work at the Moab Engaged Scholars Institute. Earl also reiterated plans for the UCC Recognition Event at the State Capitol on April 3, and mentioned our own campus recognition events on April 24 and 25.

Under Other Reports, Pam Branin discussed the alternative spring breaks to Mexico and New Orleans that included 61 and 21 students, respectively. She mentioned that students offered evening group reflections and additional musings in a “van journal.” Pam was encouraged to digitize and/or publicize accounts of these learning experiences. Steve Barney mentioned that he is serving on the Presidential Inauguration Committee and welcomed suggestions about how to best showcase service-learning and civic engagement.

New Business
A. First Year Experience and Civic Engagement
Jill Wilks joined us for an “engaging” discussion about ways to incorporate service and service-learning into the First Year Seminar (FYS). Using a detailed proposal from Jill as a springboard, we covered a number of issues. Pam Branin offered a helpful review of past initiatives to incorporate service-learning into first year programs. One person commented that faculty knowledge and support of service-learning may be limited, so that it may be difficult to mandate a service-learning component for all instructors. Matt Nickerson mentioned that a service “mega-project” could be a good way to address these issues within FYS. Jason Clyde emphasized the need for “hands-on” service-learning projects. Neal Cox mentioned that several years ago the Thunderbird Leadership Committee developed work teams that assisted with Park Discovery and other service projects.

In continuing the discussion, Karl Stevens raised valuable concerns about mandatory service-learning as a “two-edged sword.” He worried about overwhelming students new to college, offering a useful distinction between freshmen with a “high school mentality” and those who were “learners.” Karl recommended that we remain sensitive to students’ perceptions of service so that they acquire a healthy and positive outlook about it. Students should not feel that service or service-learning is simply “piled on” with other requirements. Steve Barney suggested that the current one-course requirements in UNIV 1000 are not excessive. Briget Eastep followed an earlier point that students be allowed to pursue projects of their own choosing through a menu of options within the FYS. There was general consensus about the efficacy of a mega-project followed by a variety of reflection exercises within the classroom through group, individual, oral, and/or written components. Another point raised was about the importance of civic engagement not necessarily tied to the curriculum, i.e., doing service for the sake of service. Jill Wilks agreed to send us additional materials in preparation for further committee discussion in late April.

B. Service-Learning Fellows
The subcommittee of Steve Barney, Briget Eastep, and Denise Woodbury was thanked for creating effective criteria and an efficient process for determining Service-Learning Fellows. We received a dozen high-quality applications, and Earl asked again that all committee members send evaluations directly to him. At the Student-Faculty Scholarship Recognition Event on April 24, each Fellow will receive an honorarium of $750, paid as overload compensation, and a commemorative plaque purchased at a local business.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:03 PM.