Today I had a meeting with fellow colleagues who are involved in or interested in implementing a service component into their courses.  At Morningside we have a graduation requirement where students must take a course that is flagged as service learning.  These courses include a certain amount of volunteer hours and papers/presentations on these experiences and how they relate to the course content.

I became interested in being a part of this group after I decided to try to implement a service component into one of my often taught courses (developmental psychology).  I decided to try this because I was getting a sense that the students were not really seeing the true value of the content and how different developmental experiences can influence individuals.

The big question for the service learning group (and for those who want to try to implement service into courses or organizations) is who to contact to do this.  At my Alma Matre (St. Thomas) there was a whole office dedicated to helping people coordinate these service opportunities (see: and  These offices are often student staffed, but have a faculty member or staff member as well allowing for a more consistent point person.  At Morningside it has been a bit of an issue.  We have had Vistas (yearly employees) that have been extremely helpful for people, but we have not had someone with a consistent relationship with the faculty, organization advisors, and the external organizations. The St. Thomas model may not work for Morningside, but perhaps it can provide just one example for how to better serve those on our campus who have service learning needs.

We know that having students engage in service is a good thing and the more that we can have students experience how the content of a course can be applied and seen in real life the better that students can retain this information.  However, we need to have a more constant connection between faculty and these organizations for this to happen well.

I often find myself excited by the possibilities for my courses and for UPA (psychology club) after these service learning group meetings.  But I often feel stymied by the amount of work needed to really organize a quality experience. And in all honesty, I often do not have the time to do a good job of this.   I hope that Morningside would consider having a more permanent individual who can work to help faculty and others interested in having students engage in service in the community.  Morningside emphasizes civic responsibility, now we need to invest in the man-power to help Morningside effectively execute this part of our mission statement.

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