Schulz Information Center

“Working with community partners allows students to deepen their own perspectives about current issues facing the fields of conservation and restoration and helps to validate their classroom experience by making linkages between theory and practice. Personally, service-learning allows me to maintain a network of colleagues and stay current in my field in a way that academia alone cannot provide.”
—Dr. Caroline Christian, ENSP

SSU faculty member

Service-Learning in Environmental Studies & Planning

Thank you for your interest in service-learning in Environmental Studies & Planning. The CCE can help you create or deepen your service-learning class. We provide models of other courses, sample syllabi, resources for course construction, reflective analysis tools, and risk management support.

Service-learning activity usually falls into two categories:

TYPE 1) Teaching/tutoring/sharing knowledge from the class
Example: Environmental Studies students at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, partnered with the Mather Museum to introduce local middle school students to the ecology of Lake Erie. The program focused on “ecology and the impact of population and industrial growth on the quality of the lake.” They also wanted to “instill in public school students an awareness of the social, political, and economic underpinning of our environmental problems.” The middle school students were taught about the predators and prey of the lake, basic taxonomic groups, and how to test water samples. The university students the program introduced “techniques and skills they can employ in working with younger students.” 1

TYPE 2) Using information in the class to do something with/for a community organization.
Example: Students at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont collaborated with local officials and residents from nearby Salisbury to “develop a strategy for making a proposed new public elementary school a center of a healthy, sustainable community, as well as a place for teaching school children. The college students met with the architects and gave their input into creating a space in which the design features of the “final design of the school were energy conservation via optimum use of insulation, passive solar energy, natural lighting, and smart technologies.” Many of the students “expressed thanks for being given the opportunity to make a substantial contribution to the town and planet, and felt confident of their ability to bring about even greater change during the rest of their lives.” 2

Please contact us for more information.

Caroline Christian has instructed several service-learning classes and may be willing and able to share advice.

1 Diffenderfer, M., “Environmental Service and Learning at John Carroll University.” Acting Locally: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Environmental Studies. Ed. Harold Ward. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 1999. 191-200. Print.

2 Elder, J., et al. “Connecting With Human and Natural Communities at Middlebury College.” Acting Locally: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Environmental Studies. Ed. Harold Ward. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 1999. 111-119. Print.