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CMC Service Learning
Use Your Favorite Subject to Change the World
Wouldn’t you like to apply your learning from your favorite area of study, contribute a service to your community, and help shape your career? You can, when you participate in Service Learning at CMC.
What is Service Learning?
Service learning is applied, hands-on learning accomplished at a non-profit Community Partner that has agreed to work with you as a CMC student. With the support of experienced CMC faculty and a Community Partner, you will self-design a project that interests you, provides value to a Community Partner and supports your career goals. It’s a win-win-win.
Service Learning in the News
What’s different about Service Learning is that it combines academic learning with providing service to your community. It is different from either Community Service or Internships, however, even though all three are based on learning through experience. While volunteering for Community Service benefits the community, it does so without being linked directly to any of your academic subjects. Internships, while career oriented and related to your academic program, generally do not focus on providing any community service. Service learning allows you to apply your academic interests to a skill-based project that provides immediate service to your community. Your project can be done either on your own or together with other students who choose the same Community Partner but it is completely up to you!
Because Service Learning is built around service, the course depends on the support of organizations with missions of social and/or environmental betterment. Generally, these are non-profit organizations found in every community that depend on volunteerism to do their good work. As a Service Learning student, you are volunteering a very unique skill-based contribution to these organizations. While some Community Partners have been identified by CMC, you are free to seek out one of your own choosing. A “for-profit” firm may also qualify providing that the organization’s mission is clearly focused on either a social or environmental cause.
Over half of your class and instructional time is spent in a learning experience working “on site.” Most of this time will be spent developing your project at your Community Partner’s place of business. The remainder of your time is spent either on your project or capturing the learning from that experience through reading, reflection, class discussions, viewing various media and sharing your learning with your class mates. You are guided through all learning activities by highly experienced faculty in weekly “classroom” sessions in which you will meet either on-campus or on-line, depending on the week.
Your project will begin with your academic interests which will then be aligned with those of a Community Partner. Together, you, the Community Partner and your instructor will design a project that is: (1) appropriate for your skill level, (2) supports the mission of the Community Partner, (3) aligns with your chosen academic course, (4) can be accomplished in the timeframe of the class, and (5) adds real value both to your own learning and to your Community Partner’s business. The project can be done in a team or on your own and will not necessarily be a long paper. Some examples include: performing research, collecting and analyzing data, creating a video used for volunteer orientation, creating policies and procedures or developing a “program” to help the organization in some way. The project fosters authentic and deep learning because it requires you to be totally invested in the organization, fulfills a real need and is socialized when you engage with employees, clients and others to fulfill a mission of societal good.
Some of our most valuable learning comes through our relationships with others as we engage in problem solving and change. Service Learning does this in two ways. In the classroom, you will engage with like-minded students who share the belief that service and civic engagement is a necessary part of participating in our democracy. At your Community Partner location you will engage with others who are committed to initiating social and environmental change by taking action and learning with each other. Both of these learning communities are sources of deliberate reflection and learning. Doing a team project, of course, may enhance learning even more but it is not required.
Setting Your Future
Service Learning is transformational because it touches your emotions, values and place in the world. Nothing is as powerful as the mindset change that comes from engaging with others to make a difference in the world. Doing this through an academic lens helps you to see your developing related career skills in a new light in which you become, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the change you wish to see in the world.”
CMC Service Learning is offered through the Breckenridge and Dillon Campuses
To Get Started...
Contact CMC Service Learning faculty at firstname.lastname@example.org. From there you will be contacted by a faculty member to have a phone call in which we will actually brainstorm projects. It’s that simple!
CMC Junior Ashlee Andrews picks radishes in the community garden at the Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge campus in her internship course this summer. The sustainability major led children’s camps for local nonprofit High County Conservation Center. Andrews said the experience taught her how to work independently within an organization. Photo by Kim Marquis.