KWU Launches Center for Global Service Learning and The Wesleyan Journey
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Posted on May 1, 2014
KWU Launches Unique Program For Students – First of Its Kind in the Country
Kansas Wesleyan University has announced its plans for a new unique service-learning initiative that is believed to be the only program of its kind offered by a four-year higher-education institution in the country. Study Away Journeys—travel experiences combining academic credit with a service component—will be available to all students at no additional cost, beginning in fall 2015.
The Study Away Journeys, and all Service-Learning courses and opportunities will be coordinated by the new Center for Global Service Learning. Kansas Wesleyan University has partnered with led2serveU, a sister company of led2serve, a 501 (c)(3) organization that has been leading service-learning journeys for the past five years, to run The Center. Vanessa Puleo and Dr. Nancy Cummings, who founded the company in Florida, have relocated to Salina to oversee The Center for KWU.
Dr. Cummings, who specializes in curriculum development, will work directly with faculty to help develop courses that will include a service component.
“The ideas are limitless as to what the faculty can do with Service-Learning,” says Cummings, who has established programs for a wide range of disciplines in Florida, Washington D.C., Georgia and North Carolina as well as Germany and Costa Rica. Each location offers a variety of options for students to serve such as participating in reforestation projects, leading sports clinics, and building and restoring community facilities. “There is something beautiful that transpires when students participate in learning experiences that don’t include a lecture or textbook, but do include working one-on-one with children or communities in need. The world is our classroom, and it provides us with enrichment and growth that complements what takes place within the walls of a university.”
Dr. Cummings and Puleo have already begun working with several faculty members to establish Service-Learning courses for fall 2014 and spring 2015. The English and biology departments are offering a two-credit-hour course, “Friend or Foe? Survival of the Fittest in the Tropics,” focused on the importance of the competitive drive and the complexities associated with competition in one of the most diverse locations in the world – Costa Rica. In the spring, a psychology course and a history course are being offered in Germany; a religion course is being planned for Washington, D.C., in fall of 2015.
When students register for a Service-Learning class, they participate in the class throughout the semester at KWU, and the course then culminates in the Study Away Journey experience over fall, winter or summer break. Beginning in fall 2015, any undergraduate student who has completed four semesters and is in good standing can participate in the travel experience for no additional cost. Dubbed the “Wesleyan Journey,” these experiences will include airfare, meals and lodging and will include local to global experiences.
“This partnership with led2serve will enable us to facilitate the successful rollout of the Wesleyan Journey,” says Dr. Matt Thompson, President and CEO. “It is not a study abroad experience. The service component makes this unique. It is a guaranteed opportunity for every student to integrate into their college experience an out-of-the-classroom learning journey that allows them to increase multi-cultural competencies, gain a global perspective on the world, and put classroom theory into practice.”
Dr. Thompson chose led2serve because of the longstanding relationships the organization had with community partners in cities in the United States and around the world. He traveled with the led2serve directors and 17 students, faculty and alumni to Costa Rica over spring break.
“It was absolutely amazing to watch how our students grew and changed over the course of five days,” he said. “Many of our students have never been outside of the state of Kansas or have never been on an airplane; they didn’t speak Spanish, and they had never been exposed to poverty. You can’t help but be changed when you participate in a service-learning experience.”
The university took a major step toward enhancing the educational experience at Kansas Wesleyan when the faculty began a curriculum revision in the fall 2013. The new curriculum is expected to begin in the fall of 2015. The introduction of the Study Away Journeys and the Wesleyan Journey is another step toward significantly and positively enhancing the student experience at Kansas Wesleyan University.
“This is an exciting time to be at Kansas Wesleyan,” said Dr. Thompson. “College students today have different learning styles, are looking for meaning in their careers, and they need new skills to keep them marketable in our ever-changing world. We are enhancing the curriculum to include more global awareness and service opportunities, and we offering new and unique degree programs all while staying true to our foundation of faith and the solid liberal arts curriculum for the 21st century learner.” Alumni are invited to participate in the Service Learning Study Away courses.