What is Service Learning at High Point University?

Service Learning at High Point University is an experiential and interdisciplinary teaching strategy.  It intentionally aligns and integrates a course’s academic objectives with meaningful community service so the academic goals drive the service and the service enhances the academic goals.  Service Learning courses especially emphasize the ethical dimension of the subject matter and the subject’s relevance to the students’ lives. The courses add an experiential aspect that deepens students’ academic experience while benefiting our communities, with the aim of developing greater understanding across cultural, racial, and economic barriers and educating students for lives of civic and social responsibility.


To know what Service Learning is, it helps to know what it is not:

  • It must never compromise or replace the disciplinary content or rigor of a course
  • It is not students volunteering
  • It is not a regular course with volunteer hours added on
  • It is not an internship or practicum
  • It is not a professional ethics course
  • It does not mean being merely free labor to community organizations
  • It cannot include students being paid for their work
  • It is not about using community partners to give students a good experience, but doing nothing of value for the community partner’s own mission
  • It does not automatically fulfill a General Education Curriculum requirement. Though some SL courses may fulfill the Ethics Requirement or other requirements in the Gen. Ed., the majority of them will not.  The “SL” course designation is a separate process from the Gen. Ed. process.

Guidelines for Service Learning Courses:

Growing out of HPU’s mission to further experiential learning through structured ethical reflection, civic engagement, and character development, Service Learning courses at minimum require that the following guidelines be met:

  • A formal, rigorous academic curriculum deriving from the disciplines in which the course is grounded
  • A required 25 hours in which students partner with community organizations selected by the professor or participate in a project that addresses a community need and is developed in conversation with the professor and community representatives. Professors need the permission of the Director of Service Learning to do less than 25 hours of service, but all courses must have at least 15 hours.
  • All students in the course must be involved in the Service Learning experience – it cannot be only a section of the course.
  • The texts for the course should prepare students to reflect on the difficult moral questions of justice, equality, virtue, the common good, etc. that may arise in the course of their lives as members of a community
  • Learning objectives that express the issues of moral and civic responsibility on which the course will focus
  • Help students recognize, understand, and work to alleviate issues of moral significance encountered in their communities
  • Assessments that require structured reflection and an engagement with both theoretical course texts and service learning experiences, using reflective models like the Kolb model (not just journaling).
  • It must result in a tangible benefit to the community and reciprocity between the campus and the community
  • Is a 1000-7000 level course worth 4 credits
  • The course must be graded on an A-F scale
  • Cannot be taught by a faculty member who is teaching a full course (3 or 4 credit) overload.

Program Selection Criteria:

In approving courses to be designated “SL”, the Service Learning Committee will seek a balanced set of courses that

  • Have broad student appeal
  • Have a specialized focus
  • Make a unique contribution to the community
  • Focus on an ethical aspect of the subject
  • Embed ethical questions in the syllabus and assessment tools (for example, the course should ask questions about justice issues, distribution, fairness, civic responsibility, good character, citizenship, meaning of the common good, etc.)
  • Thoroughly integrate reflection on the theoretical and the practical
  • Represent the interdisciplinary nature of service learning
  • Further the University’s mission and profile as a school that emphasizes experiential learning in order to encourage civic responsibility and character development