Service-Learning Conference: ‘Learning by Serving’

185 participants – 9 countries – 1 mission: ‘Learning by Serving’.

Answering this appealing and equally strong call, interested people from all over the world gathered under the leadership and organization of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU) and the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland (KUL) on 25th and 26th November 2021, via Zoom, to jointly deepen the concept of ‘Service-Learning in Catholic Higher Education.’

Valuable practical experiences produced impressive research results and provided the ideal space to share and discuss knowledge from academic and community engagement views. ‘Service-Learning’ is an instrument of the global UNISERVITATE programme, which aims to carry the vision of integral education out into the world.

Therefore, ‘Service-Learning’ combines academic know-how (learning) with civic engagement (service), which the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU) has been working to institutionalize on a large scale since 2013. In close cooperation with non-profit partners from the region, meaningful projects are developed, addressing a specific need of the community.

“We cannot change the world if we do not change education.” Pope Francis, SCHOLAS Conference, 5th February, 2015.

Interactive workout sessions allowed all participants of the two-day online workshop to share their knowledge and experiences regarding institutionalized community engagement. High-level experts in the ‘Service Learning’ field such as Andrew Furco (University of Minnesota, USA) and María Rosa Tapia (CLAYSS, Argentina), enriched the conference with their scientific expertise. Vice President of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU), Prof. Dr. Klaus Stüwe, explained the necessity and influence of an engaged university and the immense added value of ‘Service Learning’ for students, partners and educators. In addition Dr. Ulrike Brok (KU), Kris Holler (KU), Jan Kaminski (KUL), Mariusz Wołońciej (KUL), Małgorzata Łysiak (KUL) and Iwona Pietrzak (KUL) among others, provided presentations to all interested attendants from Argentina, Poland, Bethlehem, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Slovakia and Austria, with particular insights into how ‘Service-Learning’ can be implemented and institutionalized.

Challenges faced by students, faculty members, and community partners concerning a curricular embedded civic engagement could be viewed under a new perspective in the ‘Learning by Serving’ conference, making new possibilities for tangible direct actions.

‘Service-Learning’ projects already developed in the regional communities offered insights into the diverse possibilities of a strong alliance between educational institutions and civil society partners.

New ideas for even closer and more transparent cooperation became visible and found fertile ground in the conference. How can we best face together the challenges of our time?

“Partners highlighted the fact that they underestimated the university’s authority and how this foundation can support the community partners in achieving greater accessibility, transparency and publicity. Together both institutions and universities stand on a solid basis to face the most challenging issues of our time.” María Rosa Tapia.

“Service-Learning: Learning by Serving.” With this future-oriented scope, the conference highlighted the need to raise awareness of social challenges while offering a way to acquire important future skills in collaboration with students, faculty members and partners to truly live openness and tolerance with head, hands and heart.

Source: Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU)

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