Annie Cahill Kelly, Director, Community Partnerships and Service Learning, University of Notre Dame
Community partners play a critical role in service-learning and civic engagement. They orient, place and supervise students and ensure that their service flows from course objectives. They also can play a central role in reflecting with students upon their experiences and integrating their service work with their personal and academic lives. This session addresses the role of community partners in reflecting with students and offers strategies and ideas from community partners.
The Center for Social Concerns (CSC) at the University of Notre Dame initiates and supports community-based learning opportunities for students and faculty in the South Bend, Indiana area, across the country, and in 12 developing countries. Locally, six Community-Based Learning Coordinators (CBLCs) - individuals who are employed by local community organizations, but partially paid by the CSC for their work to enhance service-learning - formally assist the Center for Social Concerns in integrating student and faculty course work with the activities of their organizations and agencies. A central role of the CBLCs is to engage students in reflection on their service-learning experiences. Community partners often serve as co-teachers in a classroom that is less traditional but just as instrumental in the formation and development of students. They often have more sustained contact with students than faculty or staff do, and can play a critical role in assisting students in processing their experiences, integrating them into their lives and pursuing deeper questions of faith and justice that often arise as a result of students’ service experiences. This session will focus on how to maximize that potential for community partners to lead students in reflecting upon their experiences and integrating what they’ve learned. To accomplish this aim, we will provide an overview of the Community-Based Learning Coordinator model, which has proven to be an innovative means of partnering with the local community. We will outline the history and development of the model, and describe how the partnerships function (meetings, training, funding sources, etc.). Within such contexts, we will address the central question of how community partners can best engage students in reflecting upon service-learning experiences. One of the Community-Based Learning Coordinators will share promising practices and will address what has worked with the spectrum of CBLC agencies. We anticipate a lively discussion with the session participants sharing their own best practices and raising questions.
- Understand the Community-Based Learning Coordinator model
- Learn ways community partners engage students in reflecting upon their service-learning experiences
Intended Audience: Service-learning professionals; Community organization professionals