Jul 16, 2024  
2015-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
2015-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Service Learning

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Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at Tennessee State University

For information, contact:
The Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement
306 Holland Hall
(615) 963-5383

Dr. Linda Guthrie, Director


Our Vision: Knowledge, Engagement, Reflection, Transformation - Where scholarly service is the bridge uniting learning with civic responsibility.

As a land grant university and an HBCU, Tennessee State University has a rich tradition of service and an opportunity to instill in our students an ethic of caring and a sense of responsibility for making our world better. We strive to move beyond service - to transform our university and our communities through sustainable partnerships.

Goals of TSU’s Service-Learning Programs

  1. To expand our service-learning offerings to meet students’ learning needs
  2. To provide students with the opportunity to meet academic learning objectives through participation in community service experiences
  3. To enhance student learning by connecting theory with experience and thought with action
  4. To give students opportunities to engage in mutually beneficial work with the community
  5. To increase the civic and leadership skills of students
  6. To better prepare students for their careers and continuing education
  7. To help students address issues of justice, diversity and social responsibility through service- learning
  8. To educate students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to create a more just and humane world

Mission of the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement: The Center exists to facilitate quality educational experiences through community-based service-learning. The Center connects campus and community resources to create diverse learning experiences and to serve community needs.

Its programs integrate the academic, service, and reflection components of service-learning by providing resources - including training and technical assistance, to students, faculty and community. Through this mission, the Center advances TSU’s goals of quality teaching, research, and service.

Service-Learning Courses: To be well prepared for our increasingly multicultural and global society, TSU students must develop the skills to work collaboratively and compassionately to create more just and equitable workplaces, communities, and social institutions. TSU’s service-learning courses, therefore, include learning objectives that help students clarify their own concept of service as they participate in the community. Service learning enables moral and civic learning to become a component of the curriculum. Learning becomes a tool for both individual and social betterment. Through service learning, TSU students acquire the knowledge, skills and awareness to become more culturally aware, self-reflective and responsive community participants. Service-learning is integrated into courses in many academic majors across campus.

Philosophy Statement

Social justice is the guiding principle for our practice in service learning. We believe that:

  1. TSU students, as future leaders of our community, deserve a real world education that inspires social responsibility, cultivates respect for diversity, and encourages compassion for all;
  2. TSU should be a responsible, engaged member of the local community;
  3. Academic learning is strengthened by engaging in meaningful service and reflection; and
  4. Education at TSU should be transformative, creating ethical and responsible community participants.

We have adopted the following core values to guide our work:

  1. Building authentic partnerships that demonstrate shared leadership, collaboration and reciprocity;
  2. Acting with compassion, demonstrating honesty and authenticity;
  3. Working towards social justice: continual movement toward an equitable society;
  4. Developing multicultural understanding and respect for differences; and,
  5. Cultivating awareness of self in relation to social inequities through reflection and active service with the community.

Civic Engagement at TSU

Civic Engagement: There are many ways in which people participate in civic, community and political life and, by doing so, express their engaged citizenship. From volunteering to voting, from community organizing to political advocacy, the defining characteristic of active civic engagement is the commitment to participate and contribute to the improvement of one’s community, neighborhood and nation.

Community engagement, expressed in words and actions, has long been a core value of the university and of its faculty. We are actively involved in working with the communities that surround us and in fostering the well-being of the entire region. This ideal is summarized in the following commitment from the Center: We are committed to treating the metropolitan region as an extension of our campus. We will build mutually beneficial partnerships throughout the region that both serve the needs of the public and enhance the learning opportunities available to our faculty, staff, and students.

Defining the Language of Community Engagement: Although there are many accepted definitions of service-learning, TSU has approved the following definitions to guide our work:

Civic Engagement denotes “collaborative activity that builds on the resources, skills, expertise, and knowledge of the campus and community to improve the quality of life and to advance the campus mission. Civic engagement includes teaching, research, and service in and with the community” (Bringle and Hatcher, 2004).

Service-Learning is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility. ~ Bringle, R., Hatcher, J., & McIntosh, R. Analyzing Morton’s Typology of Service Paradigms and Integrity. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Fall 2006, Vol 13, No. 1.

Engaged Scholarship: The National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement defines engaged scholarship as “scholarship in the areas of teaching, research, and/or service. It engages faculty in academically relevant work that simultaneously meets campus mission and goals as well as community needs. In essence, it is a scholarly agenda that integrates community issues. In this definition, community is broadly defined to include audiences external to the campus that are part of a collaborative process to contribute to the public good.”

Community Engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in the context of partnership and reciprocity. (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching)

Leadership and Recognition in the State and Nation

Through the Center’s leadership and programs, TSU has achieved visibility as a state leader among Tennessee colleges and universities in encouraging campus-community partnerships through academic service-learning. One statewide benefit of these initiatives was the establishment of a Tennessee Campus Compact (TNCC) hosted by TSU but serving the entire state. The TNCC was formally launched as the 34th State Campus Compact in March 2008. In addition to being a leader in the state, TSU has earned national recognitions, such as being named to the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Also in 2008 TSU was a recipient of the Outreach Scholarship W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award and a finalist for the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award, both presented by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. In 2009 TSU received the Higher Education Civic Engagement Award from The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars and was again recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service by being named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction—the only university in the state to receive the “With Distinction” designation.

Grant Support

Since 2005 the Center has received $4,472,724 in grant funding from Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, TN Board of Regents, Corporation for National and Community Service, and other universities. Most of the grant funds are used for community development initiatives focused in North Nashville.


    Undergraduate Studies

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