Community Service Learning

What is Service-Learning at Willamette?

Service-learning is a method of teaching based on the principle that community involvement is an invaluable component to a student's educational experience. The collaboration of those involved in service-learning: faculty member, student and community partner, and the insight shared between the three, creates an effective forum for learning by bringing to life theory explored in the classroom. Not only does this methodology of teaching enhance the overall educational experience of Willamette University students enrolled in service-learning courses, it also makes a positive impact on improving the wellness of our Salem community. A healthy collaboration between community partners, Willamette faculty, and university students to tackle specific social issues in Salem through service-learning can be a mutually meaningful and mutually beneficial experience.

The Service-Learning Program at Willamette University was initiated in 1993 through the combined effort of faculty members wishing to integrate service into their academic course curriculum, the Coordinator of Community Outreach (now known as Director of the Community Outreach Program), and Salem community partners.

Service-Learning: A Formal Definition

A method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully organized service that: 
  • is conducted in and meets the needs of a community and is coordinated with an institution of higher education, and with the community; 
  • helps foster civic responsibility; 
  • is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students enrolled; and
  • includes structured time for students to reflect on the service experience.

AAHE: Series on Service-Learning in the Disciplines (adapted from the National and community Service Trust Acto of 1993)