In accordance with its Jesuit mission to educate men and women for others, service-learning at Gonzaga University encourages students to deepen their understanding of community and social justice through exploring links between service and academic work. Service-learning has over fifteen years of development at Gonzaga. One of the nation’s most impressive movements in higher education, service-learning unites classroom theory and rigor with direct experience and thoughtful action in the larger civic community.
Nearly 100 service-learning courses are offered to Gonzaga students every year. Service-learning courses can be found in almost every academic department and the Law School. Departments including biology, business, philosophy, religious studies, education and others, are committed to integrating community service as an instrument to achieve academic goals. A typical service- learning course involves 20 hours of outside service that reinforces the course content. Students interested in taking service-learning courses can find them on ZAGWEB through the service-learning attribute search.
Academic service-learning differs from community service in that the service is performed in the context of an academic course. The students’ experiences at the service site enhance and build upon the learning that is being done in the classroom. These experiences both enhance student learning, as well as help to develop an ethic of service. Students are asked to reflect upon their experiences and to apply these insights to the course material.
Research indicates that service-learning participants achieve higher levels of academic excellence (grading and degree aspirations) than do non-participants. It reveals that service reinforces and strengthens learning and that learning reinforces and strengthens service. Students learn to fulfill unmet needs in the community as well as have cross-cultural experiences.
The service-learning program is guided by the Service Learning Advisory Board, comprised of faculty and staff. The Office of Service Learning operates under the umbrella of the Center for Community Action and Service Learning and provides resources for students and faculty, placements in the community, and a network of campus and community connections.