Denison's Center for Service-Learning has taken very seriously the issue of how university-sponsored service-learning programs can sustain their community contributions on an ongoing basis. Students leave for the summer and other breaks, students graduate, courses end, and professors go on sabbatical, but our community partners and clients and their interests and needs remain.
Drawing on the work of Ken Reardon, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, Denison's Center for Service-Learning, under the leadership of Director Dave Ball, has developed what we call "Place-Based" Service-Learning to address this issue. While we continue to encourage students and faculty to pursue a wide variety of service ideas, we as an institution have made a commitment to two places, or neighborhoods, in Newark, Ohio, where we do most of our service. Year-in, year-out, the Center for Service-Learning seeks to steer and inspire professors and students to connect with community groups and leaders in Newark's East Side and Near North neighborhoods.
While this "place-based" approach has been in practice for little more than one year, it has already proved fruitful. One of our faculty members, Sociology Professor Tammy Lewis, took a one-course release to work with her faculty peers to connect them with service-learning projects in the Near North neighborhood. Our Service-Learning Assistant, Carol Whitt, and Art Professor Ron Abram have been included in the initial stages of planning for a community center on the East Side, which will include extensive studio space for drawing and printmaking. Carol Whitt and several professors have been instrumental in the founding of a Teen Center on the East Side, and students in several courses have provided after-school programming at the Center.
All of these efforts have emerged as the result of our commitment to being engaged in an ongoing basis in two specific neighborhoods. Our involvement in various agencies, schools, and other sites continues, but our commitment to these two neighborhood partners has helped us to overcome the problems of discontinuity due to the interruptions of the academic calendar. According to Juanita Hess, a Near North community activist, "They've helped us a lot and deserve a lot of credit. They're a smart group and they know what they're doing." (The Columbus Dispatch, May 12, 1999, p. 3B).
Contact person: Roberta Larson , Director, Denison Center for Service-Learning, https://denison.edu/campus/get-involved/service-opportunities