Students head out into the community to learn about service and leadership
This CentreTerm, 13 first-year students have been receiving a hands-on education by interacting with local community members. Taught by instructor of education Sarah Murray, the “Leadership: An Act of Service” course has enabled students to “explore the relationship between leadership and service while examining how others have become active citizens within their college, local, state, national and global communities.”
In the classroom, the students discussed the characteristics of effective leaders, heard from guest speakers in leadership positions and examined literature about leadership. Students also gave presentations about the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which Murray says is “helpful in all areas of life.”
Taking advantage of the emphasis on community-based learning at Centre, Murray incorporated a community service component into the class, asking students to spend 15 to 20 hours completing service during the three-week term. Kerri Howard, coordinator of Community-Based Learning through the VISTA Americorp Program, helped the students select locations where volunteers were needed.
Murray says that the course not only gave students “a jumpstart on community-based learning and looking at appropriate ways of connecting service to course work” but also helped them learn to “reflect” on experiences in a meaningful way.
“I think that in-depth reflection is something that doesn’t come naturally,” Murray says. Through journaling, small group discussions, and presentations, her students were able to strengthen their skills in this area.
Sarah Green, who completed her community service at Junction City Elementary School, says that by the end of the course, she felt she had “a greater understanding of what it means to be a leader. I really enjoyed my service, and I would like to go back on my own. This class has made me want to get more involved in the community and to continue with service. Our class discussions, the readings, the guest speakers and the service component all made this course a lot of fun.”
Since the community-based learning initiative was introduced at Centre, numerous professors have incorporated service into their curriculum.