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Service Learning at USI

Dr. Monica O'Neil
Director of Service Learning
Contact: 812-465-7141 |
University Center East 2232

Welcome to Service Learning at the University of Southern Indiana. Whether you are a faculty member looking to integrate service learning into your courses, a student looking for a service-learning site or a community organization looking to form a partnership, here in this website you can find information and resources on Service Learning at USI.

Service Learning is a course-based experiential learning strategy. It engages students in meaningful and relevant service with a community partner while employing ongoing reflection to draw connections between the service and course content, thus enhancing academic learning, promoting civic responsiveness, and strengthening communities.

Service Learning aims to enhance academic learning by challenging students to apply classroom knowledge to real life situations. Because Service Learning addresses actual community needs, it has the added potential to engage students in ways that other experiential methods may not.

The Service Learning Program provides consultation and support to help faculty, staff, students, and community partners plan and execute effective service-learning projects. In addition it:

  • Identifies community needs that can be addressed through service-learning.
  • Supports the integration of service-learning across the curriculum.
  • Builds long-term relationships between the university and community.
  • Offers faculty development opportunities related to service-learning.
  • Recognizes and rewards significant service-learning work.
  • Identifies, helps develop, and promotes service-learning courses.
  • Encourages student participation and coordinates the assessment of student learning. 

“USI is an engaged learning community advancing education and knowledge, enhancing civic and cultural awareness, and fostering partnerships through comprehensive outreach programs. We prepare individuals to live wisely in a diverse and global community.”  (USI mission statement).

In accordance with USI’s mission statement and Carnegie Foundation compliance standards, the USI Service Learning Program supports both academic and co-curricular service-learning projects. The service-learning program at USI includes both direct and indirect service-learning experiences.

Direct Service-Learning activities are those that require personal contact with the population served by the community organization. Examples of direct service activities include students' tutoring at-risk children, students working with ex-offenders to help them develop job-readiness skills, and working with homeless individuals to secure stable housing. Direct service provides students with experience interacting with individuals from different cultures and backgrounds and teaches students to take responsibility for their actions. Students who participate in direct service-learning may also learn that they can make a difference.

Indirect Service-Learning activities often focus on a specific problem issue rather than working directly with individuals who may benefit from the service. Often students do not come in contact with the individuals who will be the recipients of their efforts. Examples of indirect service include collecting school supplies for children from low-income families, participating in designing or landscaping a community park or other environmental projects. Indirect service projects are frequently done by groups of students. Indirect service- learning can promote teamwork and help students develop organizational skills.

In accordance with USI’s mission statement, The USI Service-Learning Program supports both academic and co-curricular service-learning projects.

Academic projects are course-based credit bearing projects that integrate meaningful community service with classroom learning and structured reflection.

The University of Southern Indiana offers over 160 service-learning courses each year. These courses allow students to participate in an organized activity of either direct or indirect service projects designed to meet community needs while enhancing understanding of course content and helping students.

Co-Curricular projects are activities not connected with academic programs that include learning objectives and opportunities for reflection, and meet important community needs.

Service-learning co-curricular projects allow students to participate in an organized activity of either direct or indirect service experiences designed to meet community needs while enhancing one or more of the Service-Learning Outcomes.