So you want to know about Service-Learning...

Have you ever sat in class wondering when you would ever use the information your professor was providing you? There is a new type of class that will never leave you guessing! Welcome to service-learning!!

Service-learning is a type of course that explicitly aims to provide you with useful education. It provides students with the chance to combine what they are learning in the classroom with real world experiences in their communities. Unlike internships, study abroad or community service, service-learning makes the academic connections explicit by connecting theory and practice. The individual is simultaneously a student and a citizen working in and with local communities to solve a community need. Moreover, students experience personal, academic and professional growth as they practically apply their education to the real world.


Any student looking to practically apply their classroom education in the real world should consider service-learning. Until recently the only way to get this kind of experience was to arrange for an internship; now, more and more departments are integrating service-service learning courses into the curriculum. The "Courses" button on this website will lead you to currently designated "SL" classes, as well as examples of other service-learning courses taught at Dickinson.

Dickinson College faculty members are constantly developing new service-learning course offerings. If there is a topic that you would like to see incorporated into the service-learning offerings, we encourage you to speak to the specific faculty members who teach in that area, and of course, we encourage you to contact the executive director of the Center for Civic Learning & Action Gary Kirk, who is responsible for stimulating and supporting service-learning at Dickinson.


When you walks into the classroom on the first day of class, a sense of anticipation always arises as you wonder, What have I gotten myself into? -- a fair question, particularly with service-learning. Read the syllabus to get an idea of how the professor has worked with a community partner to create the service-learning experience for you, the student. There are a few core requirements that you should expect:

  • An academic class with course readings, lectures and discussions that will directly link to issues and topics that will arise during your community-based experience.
  • Journaling or other writing assignments that will help you document what you are experiencing and how you think those experiences connect to in-class materials.
  • Grading based in regular academic standards, not based on services provided.
  • Time spent working with a community partner, either in direct service to community members or in support of a particular agency, or engaging in research that addresses a community issue.
  • Faculty closely coordinating with the community partner in order to ensure the highest level of integration between community work and course content.
  • A sense of responsibility to your work. This course takes you beyond the classroom to address a community need, where your work will be influencing people's lives. As a result, punctuality and an appropriate sense of respect need to be practiced.