Recently, the team of HWS faculty and staff writers behind “Service-Learning and the Liberal Arts” came together to explore and expose one of the Colleges’ best kept secrets:
there’s as much to learn outside the classroom as there is inside. Hosted by the Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning, the panel discussed their collaborative work, an anthology titled “Service Learning and the Liberal Arts: How and Why It Works.” These 10 HWS community members addressed how and why service learning has been an effective pedagogical tool at Hobart and William Smith.
“Colleges across the nation are searching to bring volunteerism into their coursework and culture of learning, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges have succeeded in incorporating the public good as part of our mission,” said Gearan, who serves on the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, The Partnership of Public Service, is a member of the Leadership Council of ServiceNation, and is past chair of the National Campus Compact and former director of the Peace Corps.
“This publication is a testament to the ethos of HWS and the Colleges’ commitment to public good and service to the Geneva community.”
Professor of public policy studies and political science Craig Rimmerman, the editor of the anthology as well as one of its contributors, explained that the book began as a conversation with friend and contributing author Professor of Philosophy Steven Lee. “I was moved by the responsibility of building meaningful participation in the community into my coursework,” said Rimmerman.
That topic of conversation of the panelists – the crucial role of service learning at the Colleges — was the theme examined and practiced by all 10 panelists at the event as well.
Citing his chapter, titled “Service-Learning in an Ethics Course,” Lee commented in his portion of the panel that, “Service-learning is the potential opportunity to fill the gap between theory and practice in any discipline of coursework.”
Professor of Sociology Jack Harris, author of the chapter, titled”Service-Learning: Process and Participation,” said that, “This publication is of great importance in demonstrating the way that the HWS faculty forms a community of interest in the field of service.”
Complementing the work done by the Colleges’ faculty, HWS students are hard at work as well. “Hobart and William Smith Colleges were the very first recipient of President George H.W. Bush’s grant for the Student Literacy Corps,” explained CCESL Associate Director Katie Flowers, who co-authored “America Reads as Service-Learning: A Stereophonic Report” with Professor of Education Charles Temple. “Historically, HWS have always had a strong presence in service learning. More than 80 students put in 60 hours a week at local community outlets and schools.”
Speaking on the Colleges’ numerous trips to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, CCESL Director W. Averell H. Bauder ’81 explained that, “this kind of service learning provides experience beyond an academic understanding of the social issues.”
When the panel opened the floor for questions, several HWS students gave their perspective of service at the Colleges. William Smith senior Caitlin Evans, who has participated in a wide range of service learning during her time at the Colleges, said that, “I just want to applaud my professors and the many HWS faculty and staff members who provide mentorship to hundreds of students at the Colleges and encourage them to learn inside and outside the classroom.”
At the end of the panel presentation, City of Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein added that, “The Colleges have recognized that Geneva is a wonderful laboratory to put what is learned in the classroom to the test. The opportunity to immerse college students in their community is essential to these formative years. Geneva and HWS have solidified this facilitative relationship very successfully.”
Other chapters explored in the presentation or in the anthology include: “Understanding Service at the Service of Understanding: An Exploration of Service-Learning in the Arts” by Professor of Education Patrick Collins; “Service-Learning and Public Policy” and “Service Learning Lessons” by Rimmerman; “Incorporating Service-Learning in Quantitative Methods Economics Courses” by Associate Professor of Economics Jo Beth Mertens; “The Evolution of a Service-Learning Course” by Former William Smith Dean and Professor of Psychology Debra DeMeis and Professor Emerita of Education Cynthia Sutton; “Learning about Student Alcohol Abuse and Helping to Prevent It through Service-Learning Initiatives: The HWS Alcohol Education Project” by Professor of Chemistry David Craig and Professor of Sociology H. Wesley Perkins; “Teaching the Unteachable: Service-Learning and Engagement in the Teaching of Genocide and the Holocaust” by Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski.