Transforming communities through service learning was the focus of this year’s 7th International Symposium on Service Learning, held at the National University of Ireland in Galway. The University of Indianapolis co-hosted the event with NUI Galway and Stellenbosch University (South Africa).
UIndy had the largest faculty delegation attending the symposium, and several faculty members presented research on the impact of service learning and community engagement. Marianna Foulkrod, director of Service Learning & Community Engagement, served as co-chair.
Universities from across the world, represented by hundreds of faculty and students, came together to discuss the importance of service learning for students and the impact it has on communities and student learning. The symposium explored the theme of “Service Learning as a Response to Global Transitions in Higher Education: Opportunities for Transforming Higher Education on Advancing Social Impact.”
Foulkrod said the symposium, which was co-founded in 2005 by the University of Indianapolis and Stellenbosch University, is an effort to globalize service learning in higher education. She explained why it’s an exciting time to discuss the topic.
“Most of the countries in Europe are just starting to incorporate service learning in higher education, so there’s still exploration going on. Ireland is one example of a country where they’re still putting their service-learning pieces together. It’s significant for UIndy to come in and lead these workshops and conversations,” Foulkrod said.
University faculty held a workshop that explored interdisciplinary collaborations among diverse academic units and the potential impact service learning can make on large audiences within the local community. Other presentation topics ranged from providing student growth from service learning to the positive impact community engagement activities can have on attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities.
Lisa Borrero, assistant professor of gerontology, called the symposium a transformative experience.
“Exchanging information about the value of and best practices for service learning with people from around the world was exciting and helped to further strengthen my existing commitment to engaged teaching and scholarship,” Borrero said.
Michelle Meer, director of field education in the Phylis Lan Lin Department of Social Work, said a presentation by European students who experienced service learning in Ireland made a lasting impression.
“Their story showed how students from various disciplines, cultures, languages and interests come together for one common cause and learn through service to the community and each other. The world is smaller than we think and these students and ISSL proved this point,” Meer said.
Through the University’s involvement in the symposium, dozens of service-learning trips throughout the year and community investments, UIndy stresses the importance of service learning as a crucial part of the educational experience that can shape professional careers.
“As service-learning leaders, we understand the value of enhancing education through real-life experiences that support leadership and volunteerism. The unmistakable pride and honor students and faculty take away from these experiences are life-changing,” President Rob Manuel said.
The following faculty attended, presented research or held workshops at the symposium:
Lisa Borrero, assistant professor, Center for Aging & Community and College of Health Sciences
Jeff Bryant, assistant professor and chair of the Phylis Lan Lin Department of Social Work
Rebecca Gilliland, associate professor, communication, and Distinguished Professor of Service Learning
Anne Mejia-Downs, associate professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy
Jodie Ferise, associate provost for international engagement and shared governance
Denise Ferrell, RN-BSN program director and assistant professor, nursing
Marianna Foulkrod, director of Service Learning & Community Engagement
Julie Gahimer, professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy
Lisa Hicks, professor and chair of kinesiology
Michelle Meer, director of field education, Phylis Lan Lin Department of Social Work
Elizabeth Moore, assistant professor, College of Health Sciences
Lynn Shaw, assistant professor, Phylis Lan Lin Department of Social Work
Jennifer VanSickle, associate professor, kinesiology
Amie Wojtyna, assistant professor, kinesiology
Rhonda Wolverton, assistant professor, art & design
Derrin Slack of Indianapolis-based non-profit ProAct, a CSLCE partner, joined the UIndy delegation.