Santa Clara University


Students Learn from Community

Students at Santa Clara University learn a lot in the classroom —but some of their best lessons come from working in the community.


Students work in the community as part of the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program.

Each quarter, between 15 and 25 courses are part of the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program, which sends students to work with community groups for two hours per week.

“Students are being taught by a faculty member here on campus, but they also learn with and from members of the local community,” said Rosa Guerra-Sarabia, one of the program directors for community-based learning at the University’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, which runs the program.

The program has more than 50 community partners active each quarter and serves between 350 and 500 students per quarter. The program has been on campus for more than 25 years.

Most of the courses are in subjects like anthropology, sociology, psychology, or religious studies. However, this quarter one of the courses is math for elementary school teachers. Students work in elementary school math classrooms in the local community. “Students can observe different teaching styles and approaches,” Guerra-Sarabia said.

The community work has to be mutually beneficial, Guerra-Sarabia said. For example, a world politics class has students participate as conversation partners for immigrants who are learning English. During these conversations, the immigrants practice English, and the Santa Clara students learn about the political structure of the immigrants’ native countries.

The program “advances the mission that SCU has engaged throughout this valley for more than 160 years: to build a more just, humane, and sustainable world,” said Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., executive director of the Ignatian Center.