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A Pedagogy of Engagement: Community-Based Learning
"The real measure of our Jesuit universities," said Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., "lies in who our students become." With community-based learning, our students are gaining an education that no classroom alone can offer. And they are becoming leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion.
So what exactly is community-based learning? It is an approach to education which recognizes that what we learn is connected intimately to how we learn it. Through community-based learning, students experience reality from the perspective of the "other"—of the poor, of the underrepresented, of the marginalized.
Our core values
Community-based learning is informed by the Jesuit tradition. It fosters moral and spiritual development. It enables faculty and students to better pursue truth from numerous perspectives. The experience encourages intellectual development, a deeper understanding of discipline-specific concepts, commitment to active global citizenship, and vocational discernment.
The community benefits tremendously as well—not simply because of the skills that faculty and students bring, but because the process of collaborating changes the way community members see themselves and their relationship with the University. The program has affected the lives of thousands, in ways both simple and profound.
How does community-based learning change lives?
Given this, it seems natural that community-based learning has taken an increasingly prominent role in the University's mission, becoming an integral part of the Santa Clara curriculum.
Students in arts and sciences, engineering, business and law all have the opportunity to participate. The University's Centers of Distinction foster intense community engagement and connections between researchers, classroom teachers, students and neighbors on subjects of ethics, social justice, and technology for the good of humanity. And the new core curriculum will provide even more chances for undergraduates to engage with our community—local, regional, national, and global.
Worth the effort
It's no secret that service learning programs are resource- and labor-intensive. But these programs work, and we've learned they're worth the investment. How do we know community-based learning is succeeding at SCU?
External recognition is one measure:
But success in service learning is more than this.
"Community-based learning introduces all of us to worlds beyond Santa Clara," says Gerdenio "Sonny" Manuel, S.J., rector of the Jesuit Community and one of the founders of the Arrupe Partnerships for Community-Based Learning. "It provides a reality-based education that can't be achieved without expanding our experience and horizon. The community does us a service by holding up a mirror, reflecting what still needs to be learned."
In this report you'll find stories of students, faculty, and community members who are touched by SCU's Arrupe programs and by other forms of service learning. You may also find yourself seeing the University and its relation to the community as you never have before.