On the Road From Service-Learning to the Engaged Campus

March 24, 2015

Over the years, a few faculty and specific programs at PCC have in one way or another connected their course study to the community. Three years ago, however, a grass-roots movement among faculty and staff organized the Service Learning Steering Committee in an attempt to promote the concepts of community-based education within PCC s three comprehensive campuses. With a few passionate faculty and staff members on each campus who believed in the positive impact that Service Learning could have on the lives of our students and the community, the Committee applied for, then received, a small grant that would pay for a faculty member to spend half of his teaching load to promote Service Learning on the three campuses, and to support faculty who wanted to implement a community-based perspective into their courses. This new half-time Coordinator was then able to offer workshops to faculty, locate funding for faculty development, and to spend time individually with faculty across the disciplines who were interested in having a Service Learning component in their courses. As the committee and the coordinator began this journey, we were quite fortunate to have the support of our president, Daniel Moriarty, who had agreed to join Campus Compact. The Compact, the Western Regional Consortium, and the Oregon chapter all provided much-needed support for a young program getting off the ground.

From a modest presence a few years ago, the Service Learning philosophy has spread throughout the three principle campuses: two years ago, just a few programs and faculty were practicing Service Learning, and as of this month, we have nearly 60 faculty members who are at some stage of planning and implementing these course changes. As our movement grows, thousands of PCC students will be out in the community helping out those in need while they reflect on the implications of their education and the significant role engaged citizens can play in their community.

Although many colleges and universities have their Service-Learning initiative housed in the student services environment, PCC has had great success with its faculty-led movement which is working in collaboration with staff from student services and we hope our good fortune will serve as a model for other colleges.

As our program grew, we realized that the repercussions of “”The Engaged Campus”” went beyond the community experiences that an increasing number of faculty members were offering our students. So, over the last few months, we began the process of institutionalizing the language of the engaged campus into the very core of our college. The first area we looked into was our Core Academic Outcomes those anticipated outcomes for all of our graduates and we sought to include community-based language that represented our intention of teaching students about community awareness, local issues and challenges, problem-solving and social change. Although the following is a draft, it represents the intent of one of our Core Outcomes and its Student Indicators:
“”Community and Environmental Responsibility: Graduates of Portland Community College will demonstrate an understanding of the natural and physical world and the effects of human activity globally and locally, applying scientific, social, economic, and political perspectives and theories.
Indicators: Students can demonstrate effective community interaction Assess own knowledge, participation, and skills in thinking about and acting on local issues Analyze community and global issues and develop strategies for informed response Evaluate personal and organizational characteristics, skills and strategies that facilitate the accomplishment of mutual goals Respond to community issues and contribute to the community.””

The other arena where we ve had recent institutional success is our College Board Objectives, which were created by our governing Board of Directors to “”guide the College as it seeks to carry out its mission.”” The Board recently decided to revisit these goals, and although PCC has been an active community member, these goals did not reflect the civic responsibility that many faculty, administrators, and staff felt PCC needed to acknowledge: that as an educational institution, we had a responsibility to educate our students about the challenges our local communities faced and the strategies needed to solve them. The following PCC goal is a draft, and has not been formally accepted yet, but we feel quite confident that this or similar language will be adopted in the very near future: “”We will work to improve the human capital of our communities and to help reinvigorate our democracy by teaching our students the skills and values of civic engagement, democratic participation, and community problem-solving.””

As PCC s Service-Learning program transforms into a larger institutional movement, we anticipate that the college itself will be transformed as we continue the ask the critical questions that will challenge our educational mission and allow us to be an even more dynamic, responsive, and caring force in the community.

Contact: ?
Betsy Warriner, Service-Learning Partnerships Coordinator, bwarrine@pcc.edu or
Kim Saliba, Service-Learning Faculty Coordinator, ksaliba@pcc.edu?
Service learning web site

Portland Community College - OR, Oregon
Contact Person: Contact people: ?Betsy Warriner--Service-Learning Partnerships Coordinator, bwarrine@pcc.edu

Kim Saliba--Service-Learning Faculty Coordinator, ksaliba@pcc.edu?

Service learning web site: http://spot.pcc.edu/slp/
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