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Curricular

Curricular initiatives are credit-bearing opportunities that connect disciplinary content and course-specific learning objectives with a community-based experience or project. Unlike co-curricular experiences, curricular programs require substantial oversight, most often from faculty, to ensure that appropriate participation and learning occur. Although these projects require significant supervision, they arc positioned as unique interventions due to their ability as a mechanism to engage individuals in learning processes that are mutually beneficial to all stakeholders (Mann & DeAngelo, 2016).

Curricular community engagement programs are what Kuh (2008) refers to as a high-impact practice, as students are given the opportunity to apply what they are learning in class to the “real world,” thus facilitating the development of their civic learning. Additional benefits of curricular community engagement include an understanding of community and diversity, a reconfiguration of personal values and belief systems, and the enhancement of cognitive ability and leadership skills (Rhoads & Neururer, 1998; Vogelgesang & Astin, 2000). Examples of curricular programs include service-learning courses, community-engaged research and/or internships, community-engaged learning communities, and community-engaged capstone courses and/or projects.

Wheaton College’s Acquitas Program in Urban Leadership, offered by the Center for Urban Engagement, is an example of a curricular community engagement initiative in the evangelical Christian context. This interdisciplinary cohort-style program affords students a communitybased academic initiative that engages them in thoughtful dialogue and action around urban challenges including poverty, food insecurity, and housing within the context of “evangelical public and political theology” (Wheaton College, n.d., para. 2). The goal of this program is to develop students who promote just and sustainable community development initiatives aligned with Christian ideology. Another example of curricular community engagement at a CCCU institution is the Samford Traditions & Oral History Recording Initiative (STORI) out of Samford University.

This project mobilizes students into the community to “collect, preserve, archive, and disseminate oral histories from across the state of Alabama” (Samford University, n.d., para. 6), thus providing participants with the opportunity to develop research and communication skills alongside community members.

An example of curricular programs in the Catholic tradition is the Law Clinic offered by the University of Dayton’s School of Law. Through the Law Clinic, third-year law students are given the opportunity to work alongside a peer in a faculty-supervised clinical experience that challenges them to counsel and serve community-based clients through their defense processes (University of Dayton, n.d.). In addition, ACCU member Marquette University offers a five-model service-learning program to their students that exemplifies the Jesuit “credos of cura personalis^care for the whole person’) and ‘women and men for others’” (Marquette University, n.d., para. 2). Student participants arc engaged in placement, presentation, presentation-plus, product, and project models of service-learning that afford them the opportunity to collaborate with community members and respond to a public problem.

 
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