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Service-learning experience related to the impact of COVID-19 on coping, social cohesion, and civic engagement (course: Religion, social cohesion, and (in)equality)

COVID-19 needs to be addressed

The community partner needed information on the impact of COVID-19 (and related restrictions) on individuals’ and communities’ experiences of coping, social cohesion, and civic engagement.

Country: Finland

Year: 2020-2021

Institution: Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki

# of students: 9

Person in charge: Mitra Härkönen

Interaction with beneficiaries: Virtual

Academic Degree: Master

Discipline(s): Theology | Arts | Sociology

Community Service Area & ODS: Sustainable cities and communities | Reducing inequalities

Brief description

The overall learning objectives of the course include that students will know the basic theoretical discussion on the role of religion in society and have the ability to apply this knowledge to their own case studies.

In the spring of 2021 students did their case studies on covid-19 related themes based on the needs of the social partner, which was Deaconess Foundation ( and more specifically their Kanssala -project. Deaconess Foundation works among vulnerable groups, and their Kanssala -project aims in making civic engagement more accessible to different people.

During the course the employees of Kanssala first introduced the themes they needed information about, the themes were related to experiences of coping, social cohesion, and civic engagement. After this the students planned their viewpoint to the chosen theme, and their method of data collection to answer their ‘research question’. The students collected information by interviewing individuals and community representatives (religious communities).

Kanssala employees and teachers commented first on the students’ ideas and later on the results of their case studies in joint sessions. During the course the students learned about theories and research on religion, secularization, social cohesion, multiculturalism, questions of inequality and intersectionality. These viewpoints were reflected upon in their service learning works.

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