Part of A Broader Mind
Community Service Learning (CSL) is a VU-wide education approach that is incorporated in the VU strategy. It is part of A Broader Mind, as it enables the various forms of development that this programme pursues. By engaging with diverse groups of people in society and by addressing real-world problems, students develop themselves in ways that cannot be accommodated for on campus. Moreover, CSL broadens academic perspectives by facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations between students from various backgrounds.
Origin of Community Service Learning
Community Service Learning emerged in the 1970’s in the USA. Since then, CSL spread across the world and approaches evolved. However, the starting point and cycle remained similar: a CSL course is typically established within one discipline and focuses on one specific societal challenge. At the end of each course, commitments to the issue and collaborations with the societal actors are terminated.
Reciprocity through a thematic approach
The VU's CSL team discovered that reciprocity significantly increases through a more continuous form of Community Service Learning, in which students build on the insights and actions of previous group of students and courses. To that end, the team developed a new, thematic approach, for which they established knowledge alliances: networks of academic and societal actors who collaborate long-term on a broad societal topic, such as sustainability, mental health and inclusive public spaces. In 2022, the thematic approach was acknowledged by the Triple E Awards.
Want to join one of the theme-based knowledge alliances? Contact the CSL team.