Volume 16 • Issue 3

Community-Based Learning: A Parent’s Perspective

Pinsky Speaks
Over spring break, Southwestern students performed service work at the Martha O’Bryan Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“I believe that community-based learning has broadened and deepened my daughter’s educational experience. She has a better understanding and a deeper empathy for the broader community. She also has been able to take her classroom knowledge an`d apply it directly into the settings in which she is providing service. In retrospect, her community-based learning experience has become one of the more important aspects of her education. I can’t imagine sending my daughter to a school that did not have this kind of program,” says Andrew Sekel, father of Lauren Sekel ’07.

Community-based learning, also known as service learning, has become a staple of the Southwestern educational experience. While a relatively new educational concept, it is an idea that has been embraced by many leading universities. It allows students to realize the practical applications of the knowledge gained in the classroom and, in so doing, to address a variety of issues and challenges facing a community. In line with Southwestern University’s core purpose and values, community-based learning cultivates students’ understanding of civic responsibility and lifelong learning.

Today’s college students are part of what is being called the Millennial Generation. This generation is also known as the “deed-doing” generation. As a group, these young people demonstrate strong values and a desire to help those in need. Dan Allen, father of Holly Allen ’06, states, “Not only is my daughter able to directly apply classroom experiences in the ‘real world,’ she also is able to look outside of herself and the classroom and see the impact of activity on the local community and the world. Instead of focusing on just grades, she is able to focus on making a difference in small and large ways.”

Opportunities for community-based learning at Southwestern are many. In addition to Paideia seminars, there are numerous classes available each semester that integrate community-based learning into the course curriculum. While not required, students are strongly encouraged to take one or more courses that incorporate service learning into its curriculum.

Community-based learning programs address important short- and long-term needs. Immediately, community-based learning helps colleges and universities fulfill their civic obligation to the communities in which they reside and help alleviate some of the social problems facing those communities. Looking ahead, this educational method helps transform students into successful, proactive leaders who also will be ready and eager to apply their knowledge toward improving the lives of others.

For additional information on community-based learning at Southwestern, please contact Suzy Pukys, coordinator of volunteer resources and community-based learning, at 512-863-1987 or Megan Radison, assistant director of alumni and parent relations, at 800-960-6363.