Service Opportunities for Learning Communities


Welcome and thank you for your interest in service learning!

Service learning has a rich history at Ohio University, helping to connect students with our local communities and strengthening their academic experience.  Faculty and instructors from across Ohio University's campuses have a strong tradition of incorporating service into their curriculum. 

Service-Learning, as defined by the Corporation for National and Community Service,  is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.  

Throughout their college years, students may engage in other forms of service (community service, field education, internships, and volunteerism), but service learning implies:

  • a link to academic coursework,
  • equal benefit to the community location and the student,
  • classroom-based critical reflection by the student following their service opportunity.

Useful Definitions*:

Community Service:    Students engaged in service that primarily benefits the service location / recipient but also to some extent the student, in that they see how they can impact the lives of others.  Generally not for academic credit although it can reflect what students are learning in their coursework.

Field Education:  A focus on maximizing students' learning of a particular field of study, although there is a strong intention to provide service.

Internships:   Service locations / recipients receive benefits but the primary focus is on student learning and hands-on experience rather than service purposes.

Service-Learning: Experiential education that intentionally supports student learning and the service recipients equally.  Another unique characteristic of service-learning is that it requires classroom-based critical reflection.

Volunteerism:     Students engaged in service activities that are not linked to their coursework or academic credit.  The primary focus of volunteerism is to provide a benefit to the service location / recipient. 

*Adapted from Furco, A. "Service-learning: A balanced approach to experiential education"