American Democracy Project

Service Learning Awards

Please join me in extending congratulations to the recipients of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Service-Learning Awards, a program co-sponsored by CETL and Volunteer Connection.  These faculty members were honored at the Faculty Forum Day luncheon for the excellent work they’ve done with service-learning.  (All quotations are from the award nominations).

Kurt Helgeson, Department of Environmental and Technological Studies, College of Science & Engineering
Professor Helgeson worked with Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity in his Residential Construction course.  For 11 of the class’ 16 meetings, its students met at a Habitat construction site, which gave them “the opportunity to see and work with the building construction processes they had read about in the text and discussed during class lectures.”  The “course was designed so the students would read about the information, discuss the information of the upcoming construction activity on the site during classroom meetings, and see and work with the application in the field.”

Rona Karasik, Department of Community Studies, College of Social Sciences
Professor Karasik started using service-learning during her first year at SCSU, 1993.  For service-learning initiatives in the Gerontology program, she has worked with a variety of agencies that serve older adults, including St. Benedict’s Senior Community, Good Shepherd Senior Community, Country Manor, RSVP, Heartland Hospice and Whitney Senior Center.  In addition, she has, with other faculty, created and maintained the Kaleidoscope Playground project, a long-term service-learning initiative in multiple sections of the CORE 5 general education course, CMTY 195: Community and Democratic Citizenship, in which “over 12 teams of students [totaling over 360 SCSU students] have worked to assess, design and fund a regional playground for children of all abilities.”

Isolde Mueller, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, College of Fine Arts and Humanities
Professor Mueller has integrated service-learning “into courses at all levels of her German instruction.”  Her students have served at the Stearns County History Museum, translating German texts from Stearns County that “paralleled the historical events discussed in other readings in class.” These translations enhanced “language development and skills, as students deal with grammatical and discourse issues encountered in the translations.”  Students also served at St. Benedict’s Senior Center, “where they focused on the relationship between society and self.”  Professor Mueller’s service-learning initiatives have made students “much more vested in their German program,” stimulated their critical thinking skills and developed their “intercultural competence.” 

Tracy Ore, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, College of Social Sciences
Professor Ore takes a group of students to Detroit each summer to participate in the Detroit Summer program.  She prepares them for the experience by offering a course that “explores the past, present, and future of Detroit through history, film, photographs, and political narratives.”  In Detroit the students “learn from and work with youth organizers and adult organizers on projects such as public murals, community gardens, a free bicycle program, home rehabilitation, and an art park.”  Students reflect on their experience in Detroit and are inspired “to initiate and develop similar renewal projects in their home communities.”

Paula Weber, Department of Management, G.R. Herberger College of Business
Professor Weber has implemented a “creative and innovative service-learning component” in Management 497: Strategic Management, “in which students develop a strategic plan or strategic initiative” for an agency in the St. Cloud area.  Her students have served at a variety of organizations, including the Land of Lakes Girl Scouts, Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, New Beginnings, the Paramount Theater and the Whitney Center, among others.  “The students projects impress because of their great professionalism, giving ample evidence of how the projects advance their critical thinking skills and their sense of civic duty.”

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