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Teaching and learning through civic engagement

July 23, 2017

The annual Northern Illinois University’s Service-Learning Institute is a time for NIU’s faculty and staff interested in civic engagement and service-learning to get together, reflect on their work, learn about innovative service-learning practices and new ways to conduct their work and to discuss important topics related to strengthening the civic participation on our campus. This year’s institute will take place on Wednesday, August 16, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. online via Blackboard Collaborate. Please register online by Friday, August 11.

Typically embodied in classroom-based projects, service-learning aims to connect service with the curriculum to enhance both character development and academic skills. Service-learning can also go beyond these goals to prepare students to become engaged citizens, by expanding their understanding of social problems and the role of civic action in solutions to these problems.

“Our focus this year will be exploring new classroom approaches to use service-learning as a tool for helping students become more civically engaged. Teaching and learning through civic engagement can help students better understand how to become more comfortable with ambiguity and complexity, how to disagree without being disagreeable, and perhaps most importantly, how to be more empathetic,” said Michaela Holtz, who is coordinating Service-learning Institute and Service-learning Faculty Fellows program.

Paul Loeb

Paul Loeb, founder of the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP), will present at the Service-Learning Institute. CEEP is a national non-partisan project focusing on ways colleges use their extensive resources to assist their students in registering to vote, getting educated on the issues, volunteering in the campaigns and showing up at the polls. Loeb will explore barriers faced by America’s students to electoral participation and general civic involvement. He will talk about best practices and lessons for faculty to use service-learning courses for engaging students as active citizens. He will talk about how to integrate discussions and projects related to social and civic responsibility into their syllabus. He will also explore ways coordinated campus engagement efforts can integrate voter registration into classroom registration or first-year orientation.

Dr. Alicia Schatteman, associate professor of nonprofit management in the Department of Public Administration and Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies, will be speaking about the newly developed service-learning version of her Philanthropy and Volunteerism course, where she will engage students in a semester-long project where they develop a fundraising plan for a local nonprofit or community organization.

Dr. Mylan Engel

Dr. Mylan Engel Jr., professor in the Department of Philosophy spent the last year developing and teaching a brand new course, Philosophy of Food. He will share his experience of developing and teaching his first service-learning, lessons learned and the future steps he plans to take including this pedagogy in his teaching.