What is Service Learning? An Interview with Dr. Joe Blosser
What is Service Learning?
BLOSSER: Service learning is when we are trying to take what is going on in a class and find a relevant placement out in the community so that the volunteer/service work the students are doing out in the community increases their learning in the classroom and the kind of learning they are doing in the classroom increases the value of what they are doing out in the community. So we want there to be a collaborative relationship so that the volunteerism helps students learn better and the learning they are doing helps them be better volunteers.
How did you get interested in Service Learning?
BLOSSER: Well, I started my teaching career at DePaul University, which is a large, Catholic, urban university in Chicago that has one of the foremost Service Learning programs in the country. As a young professor I was trying to figure out how best to engage the students in my business ethics classes so that these applied ethics courses were more than just theory, but were actually getting the students on the ground thinking about ethical issues.
How did you bring that approach to High Point University?
BLOSSER:I was hired last year to come in and to take a program that had begun in the Religion and Philosophy Department and expand it across the university. So the approach to Service Learning at High Point University has been to approach it through ethics. Over the past year we have been expanding rapidly into nearly every single school at the University, and our goal is to eventually have Service Learning courses in every major at the University and give the opportunity for every student at the University to take the courses.
What has the reaction been in the community?
BLOSSER:High Point University students volunteer about 30,000 hours a year to the community, so the High Point community is pretty used to seeing HPU students out in the community. As the University has continued to grow, that student presence has grown and grown and grown. So, I think the community is getting pretty comfortable with seeing HPU students out there doing work, and we’re getting a very positive reputation among the non-profits in the area for the kind of work that the University does.