Guidelines for the Institutionalization of service-learning in European higher education

1. INSTITUTIONAL INVOLVEMENT

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Write institutional mission statements focused on citizenship and social responsibility.
  2. Define clearly short and long-term service-learning institutionalization goals.
  3. Include the pedagogical approach of service-learning in strategic documents at different levels of university organization.
  4. Ensure that service-learning is embedded across departments and throughout different levels of an institution’s pronouncements, policies, and practices.
  5. Facilitate opportunities for the university community to self-organize, promote and develop service-learning in conditions of equity and participation
  6. Set administrative policies to promote positive institutional side-effects at the university, the local community and society.

2. FUNDS ALLOCATION & FINANCIAL STRATEGIES

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Allocate regular, primarily internal, financial strategies to design, implement, manage and evaluate service-learning programs, which could be supplemented and expanded by external funding if needed.
  2. Foster equality by ensuring that low-income individual students can access service-learning projects.
  3. Adopt administrative procedures to foster transparency and fairness in the management of the service-learning budget.
  4. Develop organization bounding and financial and funding strategies with a wider context.
  5. Consider the costs of continuing training for all agents involved, the mapping of service – learning and dissemination processes through in person and on-line strategies.
  6. Establish mechanisms to support and develop the measurement of the social return on investment.

3. COORDINATION UNIT/SUPPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Establish an office or a coordinating unit across the institution and within schools/faculties/academic centres, with specific staff responsible for service-learning affairs related to the students, teachers and community entities, and for other administrative issues.
  2. Set up an advisory board of multiple stakeholders to ensure collaborative strategic planning, goal-setting and mutual benefit for all stakeholders.
  3. Incorporate the voice of the students and external partners in the design of strategies related to service-learning at its different planning levels.
  4. Encourage and facilitate the assessment and research of student learning outcomes, community partner’s outcomes, and the self-assessment of teachers.
  5. Promote and support training opportunities, pedagogical aids, resources and connections to the community, as well as access to other international entities related to service-learning.
  6. Recognize the management and coordination actions of those involved in the different committees, commissions and processes.

4. REWARDS AND RECOGNITION OF STUDENTS & TEACHERS

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Provide faculty and students with different forms of incentives for participating in service-learning projects.
  2. Recognize students’ service-learning work with credits, and with a certificate or other form of recognition (besides credits).
  3. Incorporate recognition into the faculty evaluation, tenure, and promotion processes.
  4. Facilitate permanent training fostering faculty knowledge and confidence in service-learning activities.
  5. Increase permanent faculty opportunities for joining national and international service-learning groups or outreach projects.
  6. Design incentives for the different stakeholders to participate in service-learning projects.

5. TEACHING PLANNING

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Allocate regular, primarily internal, financial strategies to design, implement, manage and evaluate service-learning programs, which could be supplemented and expanded by external funding if needed.
  2. Foster equality by ensuring that low-income individual students can access service-learning projects.
  3. Adopt administrative procedures to foster transparency and fairness in the management of the service-learning budget.
  4. Develop organization bounding and financial and funding strategies with a wider context.
  5. Consider the costs of continuing training for all agents involved, the mapping of service – learning and dissemination processes through in person and on-line strategies.
  6. Establish mechanisms to support and develop the measurement of the social return on investment.

6. TEACHING PRINCIPLES

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Promote and facilitate service-learning to become a central approach and method of teaching;
  2. Enable curricula to promote an active role for students in the identification of community needs for their service;
  3. Include emotional and cognitive competencies, co-curricular learnings, and transversal competencies;
  4. Promote interdisciplinary service-learning projects;
  5. Develop online and international service-learning projects.
  6. Impregnate service-learning with the ethical principles and values of social justice and education, including the gender perspective and social inclusion

7. SERVICE-LEARNING RESEARCH

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Develop and conduct a collaborative or participatory research agenda built on a partnership with the community which should stay focused on all stakeholders.
  2. Provide training on service-learning research and making research resources accessible.
  3. Determine formal guidelines for defining, documenting and rewarding engaged research.
  4. Support and facilitate teachers meaningful learning, and the development of service-learning conceptual maps.
  5. Promote the visibility of results of teaching and research innovation projects according to the different audiences of interest
  6. Design a green paper of research limits in order to keep it dialogical and ethical.

8. INSTITUTIONAL ADVERTISING AND SUPPORT

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Manage a service-learning web section and an online platform to facilitate the cooperative work between community needs and expertise from all stakeholders, as well as to enable the submission of candidatures/proposals of students and/or teachers.
  2. Create or develop in conditions of continuous update a database or a catalogue with past/running/future projects or courses.
  3. Advertise service-learning courses throughout the institution.
  4. Support the visibility of students’ participation in service-learning projects of all students regardless of their age, class, culture and race.
  5. Promote the dissemination of Service-Learning throughout the university community, as well as to representative entities, policy makers and administration sectors in Higher education
  6. Promote the participation of social partners, third sector entities and others, in public events related to service-learning

9. STUDENT SOCIAL JUSTICE LEARNINGS

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Enable students to develop awareness and a sense of social responsibility by providing them with practical social exercises of:
    1. Participating in and contributing to policy making processes;
    2. Articulating and applying a public service perspective;
    3. Communicating and interacting productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry;
  2. Engage students in activities involving role-taking, reflection, community service, and dialogues with diverse peers.
  3. Connect to movements in favour of social justice and democratic social change.
  4. Incorporate consistent critical reflection sustaining longitudinal relationships and addressing structural inequalities.

10. PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE COMMUNITY

To foster service-learning institutionalization, European higher education institutions should:

  1. Develop sustainable and reciprocal partnerships between higher education institutions and civil society organisations through the implementation of service-learning programmes.
  2. Mobilize appropriate community agency representatives serving as advocates and ambassadors for institutionalizing service-learning.
  3. Respect the principle of coexistence of the interests of all those involved.
  4. Ensure the promotion of community sectors.
  5. Ensure the inclusion of the diversity of perspectives.
  6. Establish strategies for the celebration of the learning, the service and the partnership that make service- learning projects possible
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