The Heidelberg University Honors Program is an environment in which gifted students find their emerging talents supported and challenged within a community of scholars and learners and find their developing characters supported and challenged through service to others. It is this habit of service that may have the most enriching, life-lasting effect on students of Heidelberg’s Honors Program.
The commitment to Service Learning, which in great part, provides focus and breathes spirit into the Heidelberg University Honors Program, stems from the Mission of the University. The Statement of Educational Philosophy and Values seeks to develop individuals “who are productive in their life’s work, engaged in their communities, and responsible citizens of the world.”
It is part of the philosophy of the Honors Program that Service Learning be accomplished in such a way as to further an Honors student’s educational and career goals. The student selects a placement site and activity, which are in harmony with her or his character and educational program. Agency contacts, the Associate Dean of Honors, the Service Learning Coordinator and the Americorps*VISTA Service Leader are the resources to empower the student to find a channel for service. But the choice is the student’s. She or he will consider her or his values, major, and career goals in selecting a placement. Since Service Learning placement takes place during the junior or senior year, Honors students have ample time to locate and prepare themselves for this enriching endeavor.
Because it is part of the goal of the Service Learning component of the Honors Program that service to others becomes a life-long habit, the student’s experience of Service Learning takes place within a developmental structure, which includes a process through which service is accomplished. While models for Service Learning vary, all share three basic stages: preparation, action, and reflection. These three stages form the basis of the Service Learning component of Heidelberg’s Honors Program.
Preparation for Service Learning will occur in a number of ways: through an introduction to service theory in the first seminar of the Honors Program, through placement searches with the aid of the Honors Program staff and senior Honors students, and through contact with agency directors and other personnel. Action is accomplished through providing directed service to others at one of the limited number of sites selected for student service with a forty-hour minimum commitment in the Tiffin community. Reflection occurs continually during the Service Learning experience: immediately through the keeping of a required service journal and through completion of HNR 307, Service Learning Seminar.
In preparation for their Service Learning experience, students will complete the “Contract for Service Learning” (Appendix) by their registration time for the appropriate term. In addition, they will register for HNR 307, Service Learning Seminar. Honors students are encouraged to contact the Service Learning Instructor, Rita Barga (ext. 2626), well in advance to make these arrangements.Finally, the philosophy of the Honors Program is that genuine Service Learning is not simply doing “good.” Rather, the program holds that it is through serving others in the community that one learns what “good” truly is.
Principles of Good Practice in Combining Service and Learning
An effective and sustained program:
- Engages people in responsible and challenging actions for the common good.
- Provides structured opportunities for people to reflect critically on their service experience.
- Articulates clear service and learning goals for everyone involved.
- Allows for those with needs to define those needs.
- Clarifies the responsibilities of each person and organization involved.
- Matches service providers and service needs through a process that recognizes changing circumstances.
- Expects genuine, active, and sustained organizational commitment.
- Includes training, supervision, monitoring, support, recognition, and evaluation to meet service and learning goals.
- Insures that the time commitment for service and learning is flexible, appropriate, and in the best interest of all involved.
- Is committed to program participation by and with diverse populations.
Reprinted with permission from “Combining Service and Learning: A Resource Book for Community and Public Service,” Raleigh, N.C.: National Society for Internships and Experiential Education.