How does a service-learning project emerge? Where do we start? How do we take the first steps? The starting point of a service-learning project is always related to the identification of an educational and/or social need and a concern for transforming teaching by giving students a greater role.

However, the initiative can come from different actors:

Students: in many opportunities, are students who detect a need felt in a community and seek to respond by appealing to their skills and academic knowledge, and involving teachers and authorities.

Teachers: the initiative can start with teachers interested in reviewing teaching practices and genuine innovation, with the aim of linking teaching with the “out-of-classroom” and making academic learning meaningful.

The communities: In some circumstances, society’s demands to higher education institutions are channelled through requests for technical assistance encouraged by community associations, NGOs, neighbourhood groups, etc.

Linking with the community: from the University Volunteers, the Extension or Community Services area many times valuable initiatives arise that involve students in powerful projects, even when there is no defined concern about what and how students will learn, nor are they recognized as part of the curricula of a subject.

Institutions: when service-learning is institutionalized, community intervention projects become part of the curricula design and learning objectives of each career, radically transforming the design of teaching. As institutional projects, management support allows and promotes the articulation between the different actors in the projects.

What about your university?

Where do SL project design initiatives come from?

Can you identify them?