Service classes promote community involvement

Kellie Gleeson

Service Learning classes are types of courses in which community service is a large focus. With Service Learning, students are able to use the lessons they are taught in the classroom to help another individuals.
“Service Learning is a kind of course that was designed and taught by combining professors and leaders,” said Scott McLean, associate professor of political science.
“It’s an experience where you go out into the community and use the skills you learn in the classroom to affect a person in a positive way. It enhances the lessons that you are taught,” said Ronald McMullen, associate professor of management.
With Quinnipiac students going out into the community, it will let the students interact with people in Hamden and in the surrounding universities.
“This type of project will not only affect the Quinnipiac community, but it will affect the lives of the students involved. We will both realize that we are a huge part in each other’s lives,” said Crystal Brian, associative professor of fine arts, languages, and philosophy.
Service Learning has been going on at Quinnipiac for many years, but not many people know that these classes are offered. However, in the last three years it has been a major focus. McMullen stated that President Lahey started a Service Learning Committee to help promote these types of classes.
“We need to make the courses of service learning more clearly stated. We need to get these courses out there. I believe that if more students knew about Service Learning classes, they would do it. Also, if more teachers knew the effect of this kind of teaching, they would be willing to teach this kind of class,” said McLean.
In Professor McLean’s PO 131 course, students are able to go out into the Hamden community.
They go to Mustard Seed Charter School, helping kids with reports and being their coaches of study, they help the Downtown Soup Kitchen, where they prepare food, they go to the Keefe Community Center where they help in the food pantry and help people who are on welfare, and they go to another soup kitchen where they make food, serve it and help clean up.
“Doing community service helps us realize what is going on in our community. You see things that you have never seen before and you learn things about government, but you also learn important skills such as confidence and communication skills. You see that you can make a difference,” said Mclean.
In Brian’s Drama 360 course, students work extensively at Mustard Seed School, helping kids learn different drama skills. Students write a play for the kids and they perform it. The work is based on a group called the 52nd Street Project.
“We want the children to get the basic ideas of how a theatre stage works. We want them to learn all the aspects of theatre and production. This is a way to let people know about theatre, as a form of entertainment, and also as an art. The experience will hopefully stay with everyone, especially the young person,” said Brian.
McMullen’s business classes go out into the community and teaches the older generation about how to handle their retirement money, younger people how to handle credit, and help Mustard Seed School students with their Model UN project. This class does many other things that are all based on economics and business.
There are many pros and cons to the Service Learning courses. The pros are centered around the effects that is has on the students and the teachers.
Students go out of these courses with a greater love of the material that they were learning. They are able to use the basic knowledge learn in a regular classroom, but they are able to put these ideas to work.
“Students that come out of my course say that it was the best experience that they have had in college. A few students even say that it changed their lives. That is the biggest pay off for doing a class like this,” said McLean.
Teachers are also affected by this course. McMullen said that he is able to get more involved in the community. Brian also likes the fact that it affects students in such a positive way. McLean said that it has changed him.
“This class got me to be the teacher that I wanted to be. It got me to be the kind of teacher that was deeply involved with his students. I got to know them on a personal level. It also got me more involved in the community. I have a greater awareness of the community and how things affect it,” said McLean.
The community is also affected by the service projects. They get to see Quinnipiac in a new light.
“This shows the community that Quinnipiac students aren’t just beer drinking slobs that blast their music and cause mishaps. It shows the community that Quinnipiac students are smart, caring individuals that want to help out. It shows another side of Quinnipiac,” said McLean.
The down side to these types of classes is the lack of transportation. Not everyone on campus is allowed to have cars, or has a car here. It can be difficult to get to the services areas. The university also doesn’t offer a way to transport the students. This brings about the teacher having to figure out how to get your students to their service area. It also takes the collaboration of the class, which can be hard at times.