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Service-learning opportunities abound

Service learning
Students are shown taking part in the Service Learning College Readiness Program in 2017

Learning extends beyond the classroom for many students at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Each semester, students in Adam Walls’ sculpture class partners with local communities to display their creativity.

His students’ works have been prominently displayed in downtown Laurinburg, Pembroke Recreation Center and the city of Hope Mills. Professor Walls uses this service-learning course to demonstrate the meaning of community art and how art can create positive influence in the community.

Deana Johnson and Amy Williams, lecturers in the English Department, teach a service-learning course which teams UNCP students with local second graders. The elementary students are invited to campus where they enjoy a read aloud, arts and crafts, poetry writing, and a pizza party all managed by UNCP students. The project concludes with students receiving a book that includes each student’s poetry.

Academic service-learning courses such as these have been filling up UNCP’s course catalog in recent years. Since 2010, the number of service-learning courses has grown from 10 to 139 courses offered today in a variety of disciplines.

“This growth would not have been possible without an institutional commitment to service and helping our students recognize their ability to become agents of change, a mindset that will hopefully stay with them throughout their entire lives,” said Christie Poteet, director of the Office for Community and Civic Engagement.

According to a survey conducted by the Office for Community and Civic Engagement, UNCP leads several of its sister institutions in the UNC System in the number of service-learning courses offered during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Of those surveyed, UNCP also has the highest number of students (1,817) enrolled in service-learning courses. UNCP also ranks among the top regarding the number of faculty (63) engaged in teaching service-learning.

Universities included in the survey were UNC-Asheville, Appalachian State, UNC Greensboro, UNC Chapel Hill, Fayetteville State and N.C. A&T.

Fayetteville State offers 88 courses, the second highest among the six universities. UNC Chapel Hill offers 80 courses, with 1,449 students enrolled.

“Service-learning as a teaching strategy helps students connect the course curriculum to something meaningful in the world,” Poteet said. “They are putting into practice the theories and concepts learned in the classroom in a way that impacts the lives of others.

“In many ways, service-learning helps the subject come alive for students while addressing the needs in our community. Additionally, it provides students with an opportunity to build real-life skills and experiences that will help them be more employable and marketable in their careers.”  

The Office for Community and Civic Engagement also oversees co-curricular service on campus. During the 2017-18 academic year, UNCP students contributed a total of 34,286 hours of service to the community through co-curricular and service-learning. 

According to the National Value of Volunteer Time, this equates to an in-kind investment of $827,664 to the community. Poteet’s staff works with over 160 community-based partners throughout the county and region. In addition to the 139 service-learning courses, UNCP offered 108 co-curricular service opportunities.