Service Learning

 

aristotle-2

“In practical matters, the end is not mere speculative knowledge of what is to be done, but rather the doing of it.”

— Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

Service Learning projects like collaborating with the Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance to help Africa are a vital part of my courses.

For 25 years, I’ve been heavily promoting service learning as a way to engender social responsibility in the process of educating college students. All of my courses have had a service learning/action research requirement, on the one hand, to help students better understand the real-world application of concepts and theories, and on the other hand, to share some of our expertise and newly acquired knowledge with groups that could never afford consulting services. The kinds of courses range from undergraduate honors or introductory OB to upper-division courses on NGOs and microfinance, to graduate MOB/MBA/MPA and Kennedy Center students, along with executive MBAs who brought considerable management experience as well as new course learning to their projects. The paragraphs below offer two different fields for conducting service learning as part of my courses: (1) the local Utah communities and agencies and (2) NGOs that are conducting projects around the world.

Local Utah Service Learning Projects

Below are examples and agencies that my students have worked with as OB volunteers, earning both credit in their courses and satisfaction in their hearts, while at the same time providing pro bono technical assistance to groups in need. Some of them include small company start-ups, mostly in the high-tech industry, but also in businesses like landscaping and construction which are fairly low-tech. Many others are nonprofits and/or government agencies that need assistance, but do not have the resources to pay for professionals. The kinds of services offered include one or more of the following: organizational assessments, management training, team building, feasibility studies, new marketing ventures, financial analyses, organizational strategies, how to implement new technology, department redesigns, fundraising campaigns, building websites, etc.

Examples of organizations and agencies we have served include the Children’s Justice Center; UTA Bus System; The Annual Rex Lee Cancer Run; Straight Talk to Youth about Drugs; Utah State Mental Hospital; Sorenson Multicultural Center; Alpine School District; Daughters of the Utah Pioneers; Navajo Development Council; Green Party of Utah; Project Read (literacy volunteers); Salt Lake Community and Economic Development Programs; Oakview Living Center (elderly); Big Brother/Big Sister; Independent High School; Utah Minority Affairs Office; Baby Your Baby Programs; Orem Library; Provo Job Services; Youth Mentoring Program; Provo Economic Development Office; The Gathering Place; Salt Lake Area Gang Project; Springville Arts Council; HIV/AIDS Prevention; Eldred Senior Center; BYU Student Government; Utah Valley Food and Care Coalition; Various Daycare Centers; Boy Scouts of America; United Way Projects; Numerous BYU and UVSC Programs and Departments; Micro Business Mentors; Slate Canyon Youth Center; Lakeview Elderly Care; Scera Park Association; Provo Teens Center; Missionary Training Center Projects; Orem Recycling Projects; The Seville; Deseret Industries Training; Alcoholics Anonymous; Women Infants and Children (WIC); Habitat for Humanity; LDS Church Welfare Services; Provo Employment Center; Salt Lake Homeless Shelter; Diversity problems and solutions for the Marriott School; March of Dimes.

International Projects

“Our aspirations are our possiblities.” — Robert Browning, British Poet

Beyond local nonprofit organizations, we have successfully carried out projects and consulting for groups around the globe: Strategic Planning for Mentores Empresariales (Guatemala); Life Work International feasibility study and questionnaire design for Nicaragua; training manual for Square Foot Gardening volunteers; fundraising/PR for Child Hope Asia (Filipino street children in Manila); Appropriate Technology–refining and extending the use of solar ovens in the Third World; Raising money and buying supplies for assembling of thousands of packets to give poor children around the world; Generating donations to buy cleaning equipment, paint, etc. and directing the refurbishment of campus facilities of the Universidad Mayor de San Andres, La Paz, Bolivia. Some students then traveled to Bolivia during Christmas vacation to organize this project with Bolivian faculty and students, and then carry it out. Provided technical assistance to a native LDS humanitarian organization, the Village Bank of Zion (Ivory Coast); wrote English as a Second Language (ESL) resource manual designed for H.E.L.P. International volunteers; created website and brochure design for SAFS, an NGO, in the poor region of North-East Brazil (Sociadade Anónima de Familias Sobralense) and securing and delivering used computers, etc.; Drafted a training manual on culture, values, and service scenarios for U.S. volunteers laboring in Ecuadorian orphanages with OSSO (Orphanage Support System Organization); Performed data analysis of surveys collected from BYU volunteers during Summer 2003 in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Brazil; Conducted financial assessment and five year financial plan created for H.E.L.P. International; creation of small enterprise training materials for a new Provo NGO, Micro Business Mentors; restructured BYU’s Student Development Alliance, a network of some 7 campus clubs; Founded Chasqui Humanitarian with Peruvian returned missionaries and worked to expand it beyond Peru to Bolivia; Performed co-op development in the Ivory Coast; composed business plan for HART, an African health care NGO; Conducted business development processes for Cambodian medium-sized enterprises; Assisted the LDS Church Employment Centers in Mexico; Performed Native American mentoring among the Navajo; Conducted HELP International volunteer assessment report; feasibility study for the creation of a Spanish speaking college (Universidad de Hispana, Utah); Helped the Paramita Group, and NGO that links the spiritual teachings of Buddhist monks with the needs of poor Tibetan refugees in Thailand; Launched an education and literacy program in Somaliland, Africa; Assessed the viability study for creating an inner-city Utah microcredit revolving loan fund; Ethiopian village development; Hands-on microcredit startup in rural Haiti; assisted in organizing a fundraiser for Polynesian people in the South Pacific; Designed and implemented a producer cooperative called Prince International in Nairobi, Kenya; Prepared training materials for the Academy for Creating Enterprise in the Philippines; Assisted LDS humanitarians designing a charitable program to counter HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe; assessed the impacts of Fiji Distance Learning Program in the South Pacific; Collected eye-ware for rural Mexicans; Carried out fundraising activities for an orphanage in Mexico and for First Hope in Nepal; Helped to organize and carry out a $200,000 fundraising auction for the Ouelessesbougou-Utah Alliance; and helped to establish Grameen Foundation USA in Washington, D.C.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” — Yogi Berra, New York Yankees Baseball All Star

Service Learning News and Media

“Student Spends Summer in Service.” The Daily Universe. April 29, 2003.

“30-Dollar Goat Helps Develop Self-Reliance.” The Daily Universe. December 9, 2002.

“Students Help Others around the World through Internships.” The Daily Universe. January 22, 2002.

“Business Class Requires Students to ‘Save the World.'” The Daily Universe. October 14, 2000.

“The Garrens Team Up with BYU Students to Help Troubled Teens.” The Daily Universe. December 6, 1999.

“‘Service Learning’ Turns to Actions.” Deseret News, October 28, 2000.

Service Learning Links

National Service Resource Center

Americorps

Georgetown University Office of Volunteer and Public Service

National Service Learning Clearinghouse

Academy of Leadership/University of Maryland

Participate America

Corporation for National and Community Service

Service-Learning: Introduction—USC

Learn and Serve

UVA Community Service

“A joyous person abounds with energy and feels buoyant, because he or she is running a higher frequency current of energy through his or her system.”

— Gary Zukav, author of Thoughts from the Seat of the Soul