What is Service-Learning?

At Dominican University of California, the mission of the Service-Learning Program is to centralize resources and support for faculty, students, partner organizations and the diverse communities they serve in order to advance education and social justice through shared learning and collaborative action.

Service-Learning is an educational approach that integrates meaningful community engagement with academic curriculum emphasizing critical reflection and analysis. Through partnerships with community organizations and schools, students have the opportunity to learn about the lives of others and the larger contexts and root causes of issues that ultimately impact the well-being of all. Service-Learning embraces the principles of reciprocity between all parties––the community partners are co-educators, faculty and students are engaged citizens, and the academy becomes an active member of the local and global community.


Service-Learning at Dominican: Guiding Principles and Best Practices

Dominican Service-Learning Designated Courses fully integrate academic curriculum with meaningful community engagement that is substantively related to course content.

Service-Learning Courses implement the following best practices:

  1. Reciprocal University and Community Partnerships: Authentic partnerships and processes shape community activities and course design. Partnerships and engagement with community organizations and members are grounded in respect for community voice and expertise. 
  2. Academically Relevant Community Involvement: Community involvement is relevant to and integrated with the discipline-based academic content and assignment 
  3. Dialogue Across Difference: Opportunities to discover the meaning and value of different perspectives and experiences and build alliances with differently positioned others. 
  4. Explicit Civic Learning Goals: Civic learning goals are explicitly articulated and develop students’ capacities to address critical social issues. 
  5. Critical Reflection-Facilitated Learning: Critical reflection activities and assignments integrate classroom with community learning and assists students in understanding larger contexts and structures of social issues. 
  6. Integrated Assessment of Student Learning: Student learning assessment addresses both the discipline-based and civic learning goals, and includes learning from community involvement. Community partners contribute to evaluation of student participation and collective impact.

Students in SL Designated classes will:

  1. Act as socially responsible community members: Reflect and act on civic role and responsibilities as members of a larger, interconnected community and global society.
  2. Apply learning in social context(s): Connect and contextualize concepts from academic field and/or interdisciplinary knowledge with community engagement.
  3. Value community voice and knowledge: Recognize the assets (expertise, wisdom, and aspirations) of diverse communities in order to work as allies. 
  4. Reflect critically on root causes and systemic social/environmental issues: Analyze larger contexts and root causes of social issues, unjust structures, and power imbalances. .