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Volunteerism

To be a KSU Owl is to Serve

To learn more about the many ways YOU can make a difference in your community, be sure to:

With numerous understandings, and in many cases interchangeable uses of the terms "volunteerism" and "service," it is important to distinguish between these terms and their definitions.  The Office of Volunteerism and Service-Learning Support utilizes the following definitions to inform our practice:

Volunteerism: “The engagement of students in activities where the primary emphasis is on the service being provided and the primary intended beneficiary is clearly the service recipient” (Campus Compact, 2003).

Civic engagement: “Individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern. Civic engagement can take many forms, from individual voluntarism to organizational involvement to electoral participation. It can include efforts to directly address an issue, work with others in a community to solve a problem or interact with the institutions of representative democracy. Civic engagement encompasses a range of specific activities such as working in a soup kitchen, serving on a neighborhood association, writing a letter to an elected official or voting” (Definition of Civic Engagement, 2009).

Community service: “Action taken to meet the needs of others and to better the community as a whole” (Campus Compact, 1998).

Philanthropy/fundraising: “The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations” (Philanthropy, 2000).

Service-learning

"To involve students in learning experiences that serve community needs through direct service, community-based research, advocacy, and engagement opportunities. This requires reciprocal relationships between the students, institutions, and the community in a mutually beneficial partnership… At the heart of service-learning is reflection that is intentionally designed to promote student learning and development" (CAS-Civic Engagement and Service-Learning Programs, 2015; emphasis added). 

‘‘As a form of experiential education, service-learning is based on the pedagogical principle that learning and development do not necessarily occur as a result of the experience itself. Rather, they occur as a result of reflection intentionally designed to promote learning and development’’ (CAS, 2012; emphasis added).

“Service-learning combines service objectives with learning objectives with the intent that the activity changes both the recipient and the provider of the service. This is accomplished by combining service tasks with structured opportunities that link the task to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills, and knowledge content” (Learn and Serve America’s National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, n.d.; emphasis added).

According to the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education for Civic Engagement and Service-learning Programs (2015), service-learning experiences may include (note, all of these experiences must include the reflection described above in order to be service-learning):

  • One-time and short-term experiences. These may be designed to achieve a variety of student learning outcomes, including introducing students to civic engagement and service-learning as a critical aspect of their college education, enabling students to learn what types of service best suit their interests, familiarizing students with the community in which the institution is located, and understanding the approaches different agencies take to address community problems. These experiences may be co-curricular or part of the academic curriculum, including first-year seminar.
  • Credit-bearing courses. Such courses may be designed to enable students to deepen their understanding of course content, apply knowledge to practice, and test theory through practical application. These courses may be designed for students at any levels. Learning experiences provide opportunities for students to consider how disciplinary or interdisciplinary knowledge may be applied in a socially responsible manner in professional settings.
    • "A credit-bearing, educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility" (Bringle & Hatcher, 1995).
  • Community-based research. Whether integrated into a course or organized as an independent-study, students engage in community-based research work with faculty and community partners to design, conduct, analyze, and report research results to serve community purposes.
  • Intensive service-learning experiences. Service-learning experiences may immerse students intensively in a setting or culture, whether domestically or abroad. These experiences may engage students in dialogue and problem solving with the people most affected by the issues and help them develop a sense of solidarity with people whose lives and perspectives differ from their own. These experiences vary in length from a one-week alternative break to a semester- or year-long experience.
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