Building Sustainable Communities through Service Learning: Criteria for Selecting the Optimal Community Partner

By Victoria Calvert.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Faculty engaged in the Service-Learning (SL) pedagogy aim not only to provide a rich learning environment for their students, but also to create a real impact by enhancing the viability of their local, or a global, community. Extensive research verifies the effectiveness of SL programs in developing the cognitive skills and citizenship behavior of students, as well as contributing to the sustainability of community organizations through targeted services and fundraising activities. Whereas research conceptualizes SL frameworks pertaining to the learn- ing process, as well as the citation of concrete examples of successful SL practices, the criteria by which Faculty select community organizations with which to partner has not been fully articulated. The author builds upon existing SL models by proposing selection criteria that faculty may reference when assessing community organizations; such criteria could potential streamline a challenging aspect of the SL methodology, as well as increase the fit between key stakeholders such as faculty members, students, post-secondary institutions, and the community partner. It is further suggested that faculty may significantly enhance the impact of SL projects by developing relationships with community partners who will both optimally utilize the student’s efforts, as well as seeking linkages to matched funding or services, thereby creating a multiplier effect.

Keywords: Service Learning, Sustainable Communities, Leveraging Impact

International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.79-89. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 284.914KB).

Victoria Calvert

Associate Professor, Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Victoria is an Associate Professor in the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal, teaching venture and management courses. She has been instrumental in developing the curriculum for several courses including Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development. Her teaching philosophy supports learning through service, with her students providing over 74,000 hours of community service since 1996. Her students have most been instrumental in fundraising for schools, community gardens, and medical missions to isolated villages in the Philippines. She is one of the Canadian co-authors of the three Canadian editions of the text Small Business Management, published by Nelson. The text is a Canada’s bestseller and is used at over 34 universities and colleges at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has been awarded a teaching award by the students of Mount Royal University, and has received multiple nominations for ‘Distinguished Teaching’ awards by both faculty and students. She is currently engaged in a three year study pertaining to the sustainability of rural communities in Alberta, Canada.