2016 Service Learning Appreciation: A Year of Great Courses and Student Projects
On Wednesday, May 4, the Office of Service Learning (OSL) at Fairfield University celebrated a year of great student projects and 2015 service learning courses, and introduced four new courses for next year.
The Kelley Center Presentation Room was filled with students, faculty and friends surveying the poster presentations of over 20 student projects. The projects ranged from field experiences in Brazil, to the impact of border politics to end-of-life communication. Projects were also developed across a variety of fields, from economics to nursing.
Below are some of the unique projects students presented:
End of Life Communication
"End-of-Life Communication," a course taught by Dr. Michael Pagano, associate professor of Communication, had students engage in an applied approach to the study of end-of-life health communication by having students work with terminally ill patients at the CT Hospice in Branford, CT. Students dedicated 20 hours over the course of a semester, teaching art classes and decorating patient rooms all while building relationships with the patients. As one student stated, she left the course with a “new perspective on life.” A quote from a patient resonated with the students: “Life is beautiful. It’s a matter of how you take it.”
The Importance of Cultural Competence in an Increasingly Diverse Healthcare System
Under the guidance of Dr. Linda Roney, a service learning project by Casey Heely '16 and Kathleen Sirna '16 focused on Pediatric Service Learning where students observed, interacted and taught pre-school aged children outside of a hospital setting in order to learn the importance of cultural competence in the healthcare system. Junior pediatric nursing students visited early childhood learning centers, like ABCD in Bridgeport, to teach children about various issues ranging from bullying to how to be a good friend. Students were able to teach a diverse population of 2-3 year-old students and tailor their teaching to a wide range of learning needs by creating props for teaching including: coloring pages, songs, games and books.
Economic Influence of Fairfield University
"Regional Economic Development," a course taught by Dr. Mark LeClair, professor of Economics, had students work with local organizations to conduct community research on issues such as economic development and impact. This year, students worked with the finance department at Fairfield University to expand the University’s economic impact on the town of Fairfield. The study found most students were prone to shop in the Post Road area instead of the Black Rock Area. This is because the stores on the Post Road were in close proximity to restaurants and that the two sectors, clothing and food, are mutually beneficial. In order to expand the impact of Fairfield in town, the students offered the following suggestions:
- Academic competition with surrounding universities
- Expand FYE programs to focus on community businesses
- Work Studies in Fairfield, Bridgeport and Trumbull
- Increase the technological base
- Guest speakers and dinners
- Marketing Fairfield University and small businesses
After the poster session, the formal event began with the recognition of Nicole Wroblewski ’18, an international studies major, who was presented with the 2016 Newman Civic Fellow Award for her work with Simply Smiles, a not-for-profit organization bringing brighter futures to the community in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. The fellowship, one of 201 across the country, is part of Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents committed to improving community life and educating students for civic and social responsibility. Additionally, the Ernest P. Lynton Award for Early Career Community Engaged Scholar was presented to Dr. Bryan Crandall. The Outstanding Community Partner Award was presented to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and to William King from Bassick High School.
Each year, the Office of Service Learning provides funds for course development. Service learning courses with OSL grant support for 2016-17 will include: Municipal and Non-for-profit Accounting, Texts and Contexts, Poetry Writing, World of Publishing, Imagining Shakespeare and Topics in Language & Culture.