Service Learning

Service learning is a transformative pedagogy that seeks to integrate meaningful community service with academic content and skills, combined with critical reflection on service learning experience (Cairn and Kielsmeier, 1999 cited in Karayan & Gathercoal, 2005, p.79). It has emerged as a key element in supporting students to become active citizens and in enhancing the practical application of their studies (National Service Learning Clearing House, 2011).

The distinction between service learning and volunteerism is one that is often blurred. Lemieux and Allen (2007) offer the following clarification:

Although all service learning occurs in a community context, not all community-based learning is service learning. Service learning, by definition, is a collaborative relationship between the community and the classroom that equally prioritises student learning and community service. Voluntary service also is distinguished from curriculum-based service learning in that the former emphasises service over learning. In summary, students . who volunteer in the community may be harvesting learning from the community, but they would not be engaged in academic service learning because of the different emphases placed on learning and service. 

This suggests there is a clear difference between ‘service’ and ‘service learning’.

There are two offerings of Service Learning for Sustainable futures which see students undertaking service learning September to November or November to February.

  • April: Briefing to students about Service Learning requirements
  • August: Students commence Service Learning for study period 2
  • September: Students submit a proposal and agreement form in preparation for service learning
  • September – November: Students undertake community-based service Learning (Min 50 hours), finalise hours and submit reflections and documentation of learning.
  • November: Students commence Service Learning for study period 11
  • December: Students submit a proposal and agreement form in preparation for service learning
  • December – February: Students undertake community-based service Learning (Min 50 hours), finalise hours and submit reflections and documentation of learning.

Updated project suggestions will be provided on the Learn JCU site prior to subject commencement and during professional experience briefings. Students have worked with an array of organisations with sustainability aims internationally and locally. Read some of our previous student stories.

JCU has insurance that covers students for the period of their Service Learning placement provided a placement agreement has been completed as part of the subject.

ED4460: Service Learning for Sustainable Futures (available to Education students only)

This subject brings together three key conceptual frameworks: service learning, sustainability education and futures thinking. Service Learning is a curriculum framework that put s sustainability into action. Service Learning and Sustainability education are future orientated.

The intentional design of the subject seeks to engage students with ‘wider professional contexts’. That is, contexts new to the student and that preferably extend  beyond ‘traditional’ classroom experiences. In doing so, students will be learning new knowledge e and skills and contributing to a more sustainable community.

For Education students this enriches teachers’ understanding of the communities and contexts in which they teach and for other students they can apply also apply their knowledge and skills . It is a compulsory subject requiring students to engage with theories of service learning and sustainability to develop learning goals for their placement consistent with both. Student agency is requisite to and a developmental aim of the subject as students complete a placement of their own choosing, provided it is approved by the subject coordinator. Students develop and submit a placement proposal that must align with service learning theory and includes learning goals and risk-assessment relevant to the placement.

ED3460 - Service Learning for Sustainable Futures (available to non-Education students only)

This subject focuses students from a range of disciplines on sustainability issues through the pedagogy and practice of service learning. Students will integrate meaningful community service (minimum 50 hours) with learning experiences and reflection to enrich their own knowledge and skills as active citizens. The service learning projects will aim to strengthen communities with a focus on activities that promote social and environmental responsibility. Students will explore a range of learning partnerships with community agencies, industry and business, preparing them for their role as civic professionals. Students have the option of local, national and international service learning experiences.