Academic institutions are uniquely qualified to engage students in educational experiences that improve the human condition at home and abroad. If these service-learning projects are to effectively sustain communities for the long term, then academic institutions must take steps to overcome the limitations imposed by the academic culture and professors/students with worldviews that may not reflect the essential factors for a sustainable community. The Bernardine Franciscan Sisters established a Mission school in the barrio of Los Tres Brazos in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). Ten health care professionals earning their on-line Health Care MBA at Alvernia College (USA) selected the Mission school and surrounding community for their service project. Chang’s (2007) adaptation of McPhatter’s (1997) “cultural competence attainment model” serves as a theoretical framework to describe how the humanitarian service course developed by this author overcomes several challenges for service-learning courses. The importance of service-learning as a legitimate academic endeavor, and the value of a shared vision through a long-term partnership with a community to service are considered. Student reactions and sustainable outcomes for this course are also described. This service-learning course may serve as a model for other colleges and universities interested in developing sustainable service projects.
|Keywords:||Community Service, Humanitarian Service, Service-Learning, Sustainable Communities|
Associate Professor, Department of Science and Math, Alvernia College, Reading, PA, USA
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