Service Learning and Community Engagement (SLCE) at The Citadel
Definitions and Terms
1. Community Engagement describes the collaboration between Institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public sectors to:
- Enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity
- Enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning
- Prepare educated, engaged citizens
- Strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility
- Address critical societal issues, and
- Contribute to the public good
The Citadel embraces these definitions and goals of Civic Engagement taken from the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching. The Citadel supports a range of efforts to promote and support student, faculty, staff, and alumni community engagement as part of its mission to educate and develop principled leaders. As a public institution, we view Community Engagement as one of our duties and privileges, as well as a concrete means of demonstrating and reinforcing our core values of duty, honor, and respect.
2. Service Learning has been defined as the accomplishment of tasks that meet genuine human needs in combination with conscious educational growth (Stanton, Giles, & Cruz, 1996). At the Citadel, an optimal Service Learning experience includes the following components:
- Off-campus service in collaboration with a vetted partner with documented impact on the community (exception is events for the community hosted on campus)
- Service is preceded by training and preparation about the population and agency to be served as well as the issues to be addressed
- Accountability for sign-up and verification of Service Learning Hours
- Reflection about service through some combination of guided reflections, journaling, surveys, and/or discussion
- Evaluation of the experience which includes documentation that learning has occurred
Service Learning most often occurs in the context of an academic class (Curricular), but might also occur in a well-organized club, team, or company/battalion initiative led by leaders who are faculty, staff, students, alumni, or community partners (Co-Curricular). Although our community partners may identify our students as “volunteers”, it is often the case that Service Learning is not strictly voluntary. Service Learning may occur in the context of an academic course option or requirement, a required learning/team building experience, work that is tied to financial compensation such as Federal Work Study or a summer SUCCEED stipend. The essential characteristic of Service Learning is that it must balance both service and learning in relatively equal parts.
3. Community Service and Volunteering – There are many worthwhile endeavors that involve working with the community to meet identified needs and address issues of societal concern. If there is no specific learning component as defined above for Service Learning, a more precise way to refer to these activities would be “Community Service” (if documented labor contributes in identifiable ways to community partners’ needs) and/or Volunteering (if there is no compensation of any kind for the service). The Tour Alternative Service Credit (TASC) is an example of a carefully assigned and monitored community service program that allows cadets to replace cons and tours with community service. It is not considered service learning because the service side far outweighs the learning side.
4. Leadership in SLCE – Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) provides an excellent opportunity for students (and others) to develop and exercise their leadership skills. Most of the activities planned or coordinated through SLCE include trained cadet leaders. Cadets signing up for service have an opportunity to sign up to be a Cadet in Charge (CIC). Service teams are led by at least one CIC for every ten participants. For special events, specific leadership roles may be identified. For example, sophomores signing up for Leadership Day service may elect to be trained leaders for the freshman SHARE teams delivering a heroism-themed curriculum. Company and battalion representatives who serve on the Company Community Engagement Council (CCEC) my further develop and demonstrate their leadership skills by inspiring and organizing company-wide service initiatives. Those who find Leadership in SLCE to be a calling might consider more in-depth leadership training and service experiences such as leading an alternative break trip, competing for Summer SUCCEED slots, applying to be a paid SLCE Peer Leader.
5. Civic and Political Engagement refers to engagement in the voting and political process to contribute to the addressing of societal issues. While SLCE often contributes to awareness of and commitment to civic and political engagement, and it is assumed that principled leaders will remain engaged in their communities, political engagement is not currently administered or tracked under SLCE on this campus.
6. Campus Engagement and Service – The Citadel encourages students to engage with their companies, clubs, teams, choirs, religious groups, honor societies, and other small groups or organizations to enrich their college experience, expand opportunities to develop leadership skills, and discover areas that may be priorities for them as they go forward to be lifelong engaged citizens. While all classes might be engaged in campus activities, it is especially important that sophomores find affiliations and activities that will help them become more engaged.
Active participation and leadership in campus organizations may, with proper definitions, documentation, and approvals, be included on students’ Leadership Transcripts. Additionally, SLCE staff is eager to consult to campus groups to help them access the staff, software, and infrastructure that would enable them to successfully engage with the community as a group.
Throughout their four years, cadets will be asked to serve campus needs as part of their duty as citizens of the campus or a particular group. Color guards, parking detail, set-up and clean-up for campus events, and special service to campus departments or centers are all admirable and desirable opportunities. At this time, however, on-campus engagement and service primarily benefitting the college are not tracked under SLCE on this campus.
Professors have the discretion to strengthen their courses by integrating experiential learning such as Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE). To be labeled as a course with a SLCE component, professors need to engage their students in at least five hours of service along with training and reflection. We highly encourage professors to consult with The Krause Center SLCE team to determine what resources might be available to help the professor identify partners, track and verify student participation, integrate training by SLCE staff and/or community partners, and coordinate assessment.
Students and faculty should coordinate with The Krause Center to insure that their service hours are tracked and verified in Givepulse and connected to the course where the activities and hours should be credited. This is particularly important when students are enrolled in more than one course with SLCE components as each activity can each only count for one course.