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SERVICE-LEARNING IN A UNIVERSITY’S HONORS PROGRAM: DEVELOPING THE BALANCE OF CIVIC CONTRIBUTION AND INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING
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SERVICE-LEARNING IN A UNIVERSITY’S HONORS PROGRAM: DEVELOPING THE BALANCE OF CIVIC CONTRIBUTION AND INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING

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  • 1. Service-Learning in St. Ambrose University’s Honors Program:Developing the Balance of Civic Contribution and Interdisciplinary LearningJessica CannovaFirstYear ExperienceSt. Ambrose UniversityThe Honors ProgramSt. Ambrose University launched theHonors Program in the fall of 2012.The admission requirements include awritten essay, minimum 3.6 GPA, andACT score of 26 or higher. Once ad-mitted, students must maintain a 3.25cumulative GPA to remain in the pro-gram.The Honors Program at St. AmbroseUniversity is organized around an in-terdisciplinary core offered in the firstsemester of students’ first year. TheHonors Core includes two seminarsthat fulfill two general education re-quirements, Service Learning, and aSpeakers Series totaling six credits.Students chose either theme A:“Globalization: The Ripple Effect” ortheme B: “The Race to Equality”,based on their interest in the topicsthat address current issues.In the Honors Core A, “The RippleEffect: Water as a Global Resource”seminar was team-taught by Profes-sors in Criminal Justice/ Law and Biolo-gy. In the Honors Core B, “The 2012Presidential Election” seminar wasteam-taught by Professors in Philoso-phy and Political Science. To best inte-grate these themes with a communityagency that expressed a need, TheQuad Cities Waterkeeper, Scott CountyRepublican office, and Scott CountyDemocrat office were chosen for theService Learning Course.Honors A Service-LearningFirst-year honor students applied class-room topics directly toward their servicewith the Quad Cities Waterkeeper, ArtNorris. In the fall of 2012 Norris was inthe process of working on Clean WaterAct violations in the Green River locatedjust outside of Davenport, IA.Norris’ needs with the Green River includ-ed research on the Clean Water Act andcement waste, relocation of endangeredmussels, and promotional materials in-volving cement and cigarette water pollu-tion.Students chose one of these needs andlogged a minimum of 20 hours during thesemester. In addition, they wrote weeklyreflections, and published a final websitedisplaying the Honors Core integrationwithin their small service groups. Also, asa requirement of the Speakers Series,these groups presented to the campuscommunity about their experience in theHonors Core.Honors B Service-LearningFirst-year honor students applied class-room topics directly toward their servicefor the Scott County Republican Office,Scott County Democrat Office and St.Ambrose University’s Student Govern-ment Association (SGA). Classroom dis-cussions that were visible in their serviceincluded the following topics: campaignstrategy, tactics, duties and techniques,political debates, advertisements, andpositions.Students chose to serve either the Re-publican or Democratic party in additionto serving in non-partisan initiativesthrough SGA, including voter registra-tion. Identical to the Honors A section,students were required to serve and loga minimum of 20 hours over the semes-ter, write weekly reflections, and publisha final website displaying the HonorsCore integration within their small ser-vice groups.Opportunities and ChallengesStudents established diverse perspectives through guided reflection, interactive community developments, and real-time challenges broughtabout by applying lessons to practical problems. Public projects awakened students to how community organizations operate, from large-scalecoordination to personal dynamics. This established real principles and passions relating to the community and fostered construction of a solidfoundation for personal goals in the future.Challenges in communication and organization required students to establish a meaningful connection between community service and course-work, equipping them for future adversity. These challenges served as a catalyst for discussions and reflection on the fundamental purpose ofservice learning. Critical thinking, collective problem solving and progressive goal-setting addressed the nature of adversity faced by communityagencies as a whole, leading to a more holistic understanding of practical planning and execution.Student WebsitesHonors Awww.anotsoconcretesolution.weebly.comwww.promotingandprotectingourwater.blogspot.comwww.machomussels.weebly.comHonors Bwww.ravefordave.weebly.comwww.mittislegit.weebly.comFor more information:Jessica CannovaCannovajessicaa@sau.edu563-333-5828

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