History and Mission
Since its inception in 2004, SWOSU’s Service Learning program has experienced remarkable firsts, including a student and a faculty member attending the first ever Campus Compact Service Learning Institute. This inaugural event, in January 2005, centered on course re-design, moving an existing course into configuration with a significant Service Learning component. The Institute paired faculty and students as collaborative designers of course content. Subsequently, Dr. Edward Zlotkowski, a premier speaker and writer on Service Learning issues, requested that SWOSU host a regional conference. SWOSU President John Hays readily agreed and the regional conference convened on October 6, 2005. A significant portion of the program was based upon SWOSU Service Learning projects and the reflections of students and community partners. SWOSU’s first Service Learning Director, Viki Craig, later organized a Service Learning Summit Breakfast which brought together potential community partners, interested faculty members, and administration. The focus was informing the community of available resources and to assess the needs of the community.
Since that time, the Director reports all of SWOSU’s community engagement data to National Campus Compact. Forms are now available online for faculty members, students, and community partners to evaluate Service Learning projects in which they engage. Service Learning is considered to be a high impact practice for student learning, as stated in SWOSU’s Strategic Plan.
Goal 2: Focus on Academic Quality through accessible, innovative, and high quality academic programs that are based on student needs and those of the region and state.
- Increase opportunities for students to engage in High Impact Practices, specifically focused on writing intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, service learning, and undergraduate research.
In 2013, Dr. Sophia Lee, SWOSU Professor of Music with a special focus in music therapy, was nominated for the National Campus Compact Erlich Award for excellence in Service Learning programming within her discipline. The Director of Service Learning and faculty members from all disciplines continue to promote service learning initiatives by attending Campus Compact workshops, presenting research projects, and designing faculty development programs.
Objectives for the future of Service Learning at SWOSU:
- To enable and encourage faculty, students, and community partners to participate in regular assessment of our service learning programs and their part in that process;
- To promote service learning courses within each academic discipline;
- To recognize students for their service learning activities and to nominate them for regional/national service learning awards;
- To recognize outstanding service learning faculty by nominating them for regional/national awards, such as the Erlich Award.