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Academic Service Learning
California's Call to Service

California State University, San Bernardino

Response to the CSU Academic Senate
Regarding AS 2471-99
Governor Gray Davis’s proposed
Community Service Graduation Requirement

The following is a response to the CSU Academic Senate Resolution 2471-99 regarding the Governor’s proposal to require community service for graduation for undergraduates in California public institutions of higher education.

WHEREAS in his call for mandatory community service, the Governor has outlined the following desired outcomes:

    • Students would develop a "service ethic," which includes an understanding of the importance of contributing to their communities.
    • Students would contribute time to the state as a "return" to the taxpayers of California; and

WHEREAS in his call for mandatory community service, Education Secretary Gary Hart outlined secondary desired outcomes:

    • Students would be able to help address many pressing social problems.
    • The university could enrich students’ educational experiences by linking classroom work to the broader community;
    • The university could provide students with an introduction to the helping professions and possible careers in public service; and

WHEREAS research (Stukas, 1999) suggests that when students are forced into community service rather than choosing to participate, achievement of these outcomes is compromised; and

WHEREAS the desired outcomes are more likely to be achieved when a planned and incrementally implemented, campus and community sensitive, and academically sound service-learning program is put in place; and

WHEREAS the cost of implementing a compulsory service-learning program for approximately 14,000 students would be prohibitive and the impact of such a sudden influx of students into community settings would be detrimental to the development and maintenance of university and community partnerships; and

WHEREAS the administrative and risk management burden of implementing such a large scale program would overburden the infrastructure of the campus; and

WHEREAS having a governor mandate academic curriculum usurps the authority of the campus curriculum review process and sets a disturbing precedent for academic freedom; and

WHEREAS the faculty and students have not been adequately consulted in the development of this initiative; and

WHEREAS CSUSB has a strong and growing track record of student involvement in service which has already demonstrated success without the need for a mandate; and

WHEREAS even if the campus were ready to implement such an initiative, there are a large number of technical and logistical issues that would need to be researched and addressed for meaningful student experiences to be offered; and

WHEREAS although a planned service-learning program has the potential to provide mutual benefit to the community, the university, and students, a community service program like the one proposed has the potential to deviate from the academic mission of CSUSB;

Be it RESOLVED that CSUSB make a commitment to providing students and faculty with various OPPORTUNITIES and INCENTIVES to participate in meaningful service-learning experiences.

A service-learning approach to teaching and learning provides educational experiences under which students learn and develop through active participation in organized service experiences that meet actual community needs and that are coordinated in collaboration with the university community. Service experiences are directly integrated into students’ academic or programmatic curriculum and structured time is provided for students to reflect on and articulate what they experienced and learned during the service activity. These activities provide students with opportunities to apply newly-acquired knowledge and skills in real-life situations, enhancing what is taught at the university by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community. Service-learning activities also help to foster civic participation and improve the quality of life in the communities served.

(Modified from the Commission on National Community Service — now the corporation for National and Community Service). In Richard J. Kraft and James Krug, "Review of Research and Evaluation on Service Learning in Public and higher Education," Chapter 24 of Richard J. Kraft and Marc Swadener, Building Community: Service Learning in the Academic Disciplines. (Denver, CO; Colorado Campus Compact, 1994.)

RESOLVED that these opportunities be voluntary rather than compulsory; and be it further

RESOLVED that those faculty and staff who are interested in service-learning be offered rewards for participating in such activities.

Content Contact:
Judy Botelho
(562) 951-4749
Technical Contact:
webmaster@calstate.edu

Last Updated: April 29, 2008