General service-learning course examples
The following are just a few examples to help you integrate service-learning into your higher education curriculum:
- Work with neighborhood leadership or advisory boards to put on workshops for residents of low-income areas on household finances and budgeting.
- Assist nonprofits with fundraising efforts (grant writing, investments, budgeting).
- Develop a free tax-preparation and counseling service for low-income individuals (VITA program from the IRS).
- Assist in the running and staffing of a cooperative food store and credit union.
- Work with people in group living facilities to explore their “roots,” and create a book or portfolio with residents and patients.
- Collect and document what life was like during major recent historical periods by visiting nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and veteran’s hospitals.
- Working with a marketing class, artists can create promotional literature (brochures, displays, videos, photo journals, etc.) for a nonprofit agency.
- In an art history class, students prepare and present a tour of a significant museum exhibit for K-12 students. Thus, students would be learning by teaching and performing a real service to the community.
- Have students work with different age groups in a rehabilitative program—youth, adults and senior citizens—and interpret the changes in the human body into artwork.
- Conduct workshops at elderly resident homes in a type of “What is Happening to My Body” program. In this way, students will learn about the particular nutritional needs of the elderly and physical changes they are going through.
- Work with local schools to conduct presentations on the pathology of AIDS, HIV infection and sexually transmitted disease and prevention.
- Serve at Planned Parenthood as an information line counselor, family planning counselor, fertility information, reproductive physiology, contraception and reproductive health care.
- Work as a guide, helper or animal handler at a nonprofit nature study center, which provides free education programs and tours for inner-city youth.
- Students may develop a business plan or marketing strategy to help high school students in art or shop classes sell their works. At the same time, mentoring is happening and awareness of higher education business opportunities is being shared.
- Create and conduct workshops for homeowners of low-income areas to brush up on budgeting and personal finance skills.
- Students work with faculty to secure research grants, assist with writing proposals and identifying possible funding outlets.
- Students survey food and drug stores in and around the community to establish the relative prices and quality of essential items. They issue a monthly listing of this information, which helps prevent stores in low-income communities from raising their prices above those found in surrounding areas.
- Work with the Junior Achievement Program to give students an overview of the free enterprise system and basic principles of business and economics. Lessons range in difficulty, as students can be placed in elementary, middle and high school classrooms.
Communication, media and theatre
- Conduct media literacy workshops for students in local elementary schools.
- Conduct workshops on interpersonal communication and effective conflict resolution for students in an elementary school or after school program.
- Develop theatre workshops that encourage participants to use theatre as a means of expressing their emotions.
- Design personalized software for local nonprofits to better manage volunteers, resources, finances, inventories, etc. For example, a volunteer center may need a program to match volunteer needs, class goals, with community needs and agency needs.
- Assist a nonprofit agency in developing a website to inform both its clients and the general public of its purpose and activities.
- Design a computer program to assist students in matching interests and skills to find appropriate volunteer placement sites within a community.
- Collect and analyze statistics and finances for a nonprofit community organization.
- Students in a labor economics course work with a community agency that helps the unemployed find jobs that fit their needs.
- Conduct a workshop in a low-income elementary school, teaching its students about free enterprise and financial management.
- Form a team of students from four or five content areas to go into public schools and help teachers design and implement lesson plans that integrate service-learning components into their curricula. Students are not only learning about the pedagogy of service learning, they are seeing the reality of the classroom. There will be mentoring between the experienced teacher and the student.
- Students could make lesson plans and activities that are grade appropriate in binders to donate to area homeless shelters or other places in the community where education and literacy are lacking. Creating these types of binders could assist the student in developing good planning skills in age- and skill-appropriate parts of being a teacher.
- Work with nonprofits to develop hard-hitting brochures for use in recruitment and information.
- Work with nonprofits to write letters to businesses to ask donations of goods and services.
- Practice writing persuasive letters or essays for nonprofits to alert citizens and media.
- Work with artists to create content for cartoons, photo essays or videos promoting a nonprofit.
- Write innovative and high-quality noncommercial radio and television programs or public service announcements for nonprofits.
- Work with nonprofits to write clear and concise grant proposals.
- Read books to, or write books with, children in schools.
- Instructors could develop “pen-pal” programs between their students and Veterans to promote understanding of history as well as improve their writing abilities.
- Work with seniors to develop and publish a local cultural journal that reports on the unique aspects of the community.
- Work with local politicians and policy makers to inform them of the history of an issue and possible strategies for resolving the issues, so that they will be better able to evaluate the opinions and actions of local government officials.
- Work with a local museum or library to have students create displays and serve as tour guides.
- Create an oral history of a decade in your community’s past by partnering with the local senior center or nursing home.
- Complete a fundraising project for an international organization, such as the Zambia project or FUVIRESE, and learn the mission and functions of the organization.
- Work with international students, offering cultural changes, e.g., event showcasing cultures, fine arts show.
- Work with the America Counts program to tutor low-income children in mathematics.
- Develop a mathematics workshop, making math fun for students in low-income elementary schools.
Modern world languages
- Language education students can spend several hours per week tutoring in a local elementary school.
- Students in an international business and language area studies course can make a presentation (in their studied language) to community members on a course related topic.
- World Language students could translate documents for the local school district so that community members who speak an alternate language are able to better communicate with the district and its teachers, and fully participate in their children’s education.
- Students could work with local nonprofits translating vital information for clients who speak another language.
- Students could present a specific aspect of language or culture to residents in a local nursing home.
- Conduct healthy eating and exercise clinics for students in a local elementary school.
- Develop a sports league for students in low-income elementary schools.
- Conduct sports clinics in a variety of sports.
- Form a non-partisan watch dog group that gives background on candidates, their voting histories, their associations, finances, issues, affiliations, etc. so that voters can make a truly informed decision.
- Have students assist voter registration efforts as a means to collect qualitative data. Then write a paper or create a poster presentation on apathy/involvement/attitudes of the public.
- Have students work with a senior citizen group to lobby for legislation to meet their needs or the needs of some other population or interest group. Grass roots organizing techniques would be stressed.
- Work to apply social psychological principles to promote positive behavioral changes, such as a change in recycling habits.
- Students apply class principles to work at a hotline for victims of domestic violence.
- Work with an agency that provides therapy to children with autism or other developmental disabilities.
- Serve at any nonprofit organization that places an emphasis on human services.
- Come to an understanding of the workings of the community by working with a citizen group or neighborhood resource center.
- Students in a society, sex, and marriage course could serve at an organization that provides mediation and support for families in crisis.
- Develop a program to teach elementary school students about gang prevention in their school.
- Partner with local police or school-police liaisons to develop youth crime prevention for parents.
- Assist a local school in conducting an evaluation of its programs and materials for inadvertent forms of institutionalized inequality.