Office of Service Learning

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Learning Through Service. Changing Lives. Building Global Citizens.


An experiential approach to teaching and learning that links academic study and community service so that each is strengthened—and both are transformed

The Office of Service Learning (OSL) is committed to solidarity and collaboration with people who are marginalized. We work to develop community partnerships that are based in mutuality and reciprocity. Through these partnerships, students engage in community service that includes substantial direct contact with low-income residents, social service agency clients, the elderly, public school students, or hospital/clinic patients. They serve as interns and consultants, and support personnel.

Students’ work is directly related to service learning course content and clearly connected to course learning objectives. Critical reflection is an essential component.

In addition to being mindful of "best practices" that have been developed nationally in the academic service-learning movement, our work flows from the Jesuit Catholic educational mission of Fairfield University that calls for the dynamic integration of academic excellence, social responsibility, and faith that promotes justice.

The OSL provides support for

Contact us!

Andrea Canuel
Associate Director for Service Learning, Center for Faith and Public Life

Betsy Bowen
Faculty Chair, Service Learning
Professor, English

Service Learning Advisory Committee

The Service Learning Advisory Committee was established in Spring 2006. The purpose of the committee is to help develop and guide the vision of Service Learning at Fairfield University. Advisory committee members are also committed to supporting and consulting with colleagues who want to integrate Service Learning practice into their respective courses and programming.

Office of Service Learning

Melissa Quan, Director of the Center for Faith and Public Life
Andrea Canuel, Associate Director for Service Learning
Betsy Bowen, Faculty Chair of Service Learning; Professor, English

Academic Division

Office of the Provost
Jocelyn Boryczka, Associate Vice Provost for Scholarly, Creative, and Community Engagement
Jennifer Ewald, Associate Vice Provost, Global Strategy

College of Arts & Sciences
Michael Andreychik, Psychology
Elizabeth Boquet, English; Director, Writing Center
Anita Deeg-Carlin, Associate Director, International Studies Program
Judy Primavera, Psychology
Tom Sobocinski, English Writing

Dolan School of Business
Mark LeClair, Economics and Director of the Masters in Public Administration
Vishnu Vinekar, Information Systems & Operations Management
William Vasquez Mazariegos, Economics

Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions
Robert Hannafin, Dean
Stephanie Storms, Associate Dean

Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies
Jessica Planas, Nursing

Center for Academic Excellence
Emily Smith, Director of Mentoring

DiMenna-Nyselius Library
Barbara Ghilardi, Reference Librarian & Interim Instruction Coordinator

Student Affairs

Katie Byrnes, Campus Ministry
Nicole Heller, Assistant Director, Office of Student Engagement
Ophelia Rowe-Allen, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Residence Life and Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs

Community Partners

Edith Cassidy, Burroughs Community Center
Bob Francis, RYASAP
Anne Gribbon, School Volunteer Association

Community Partners

The Office of Service Learning at Fairfield University encourages and supports service-learning course development, community partnerships for cooperative education, and meaningful reflection experiences.

Each year, 40 or more individual courses include service learning, involving hundreds of Fairfield University students and dozens of community organizations.

Building a Community Partnership

  • A Fairfield volunteer trying to rip off a wooden beam while deconstructing a house.We focus on harnessing the assets of the community: the partnering organizations and professionals, the University, the faculty, and the students.

  • The community partner and University faculty serve as co-educators; lessons learned from active service are directly applied to course material.

  • We strive for sustainability - the development of long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with community organizations.

Interested in developing a service learning partnership with Fairfield University?

Contact Andrea Canuel at (203) 254-4000 ext. 3393.

"Professor Weiden's tax class provided a unique way for accounting students to use their skills to become engaged in the surrounding community. Our group found their eager attitudes and expertise invaluable during the tax season; we always look forward to working with Fairfield University students." 
- outreach advocate, Connecticut Association for Human Services, Hartford, Conn.

Examples of Partnerships

  • Federal Income Taxation II - This course partners with the Greater Bridgeport Family Economic Security Coalition, which facilitates the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Students work at VITA host agencies as income tax preparers, helping hundreds of qualifying community members file their income taxes, free of charge, while learning about the impact of tax policy on local people.

  • The Adrienne Kirby Family Literacy Project - A long-standing partnership between Fairfield University and Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc. (ABCD) provides opportunities for students to be involved in preventive intervention that helps low-income preschoolers and their parents in language and reading, while learning about child development and cognition.

For more, see our list of courses and descriptions

Fairfield University Students work with Habitat for Humanity to provide families with decent, affordable homes

Community, Public, And Global Health Nursing Project In Nicaragua

A Fairfield Undergraduate student playing with one of the children in Nicaragua.
Several options exist for interested students to participate in this service learning opportunity in Nicaragua. The experience is open to:
  • Fairfield University undergraduate nursing students enrolled in the service learning course "Community, Public, and Global Health Nursing";
  • Undergraduate nursing students from any 4-year program in the US enrolled in an independent study course at Fairfield University;
  • Graduate nursing students who are enrolled as MSN or DNP students at Fairfield or another US university who want to complete clinical or immersion hours.

Since 2009, US nursing students have worked with students from Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), faculty from Fairfield and UCA, and community partners, to develop and implement sustainable, evidence-based interventions to address health concerns. Our community partners include two barrios (neighborhoods) in Managua: Ayapal and Nueva Vida, and the Santa Maura coffee farm in northcentral Nicaragua, near the town of Jinotega.

Please support the work of this project, named “Cuidemos Nuestra Salud” by one of our partners in Managua. Donations will go toward the purchase of supplies needed to implement and sustain the public health interventions.

In 2018-2019, we are working in two urban communities, one in Managua and the other in Cuidad Sandino. We respond to health concerns raised by community members. In Managua, we will be promoting women's health; in Cuidad Sandino, we will be addressing issues related to child growth and development.


‌  ‌ Undergraduates administering medications to locals.

Service Learning Course Offerings

Service Learning Course Offerings

Faculty Resources

We provide support to faculty for:

  • Course design and implementation
  • Community partnership development
  • Community-engaged scholarship
  • Course logistics (scheduling, transportation, etc.)


Student Opportunities & Resources

A community-based approach to education that combines meaningful community service, critical reflection, and civic education—all of which enhance the academic learning in a particular course.

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