The learning goals of this course included: Students can analyze the interconnections of urban contexts, social challenges and religion and values. They can apply research based knowledge into a practical situation or challenge, and understand work and working methods which aim in influencing urban social challenges. The students develop their abilities to use their expertise on influencing a real world problem.
The course consisted of 24 hours of group meetings, 20 hours of service, and individual as well as group work on written assignments.
Students got to know and participate in civic engagement in the work of a civil society partner organization, Helsinki Deaconess Institute, their drop-in centers. These centers offer health care, meals and hygiene services along with counselling and a group of peers. The centers offer socially excluded people or those at risk of exclusion and opportunity to participate and feel accepted as they are.
Students served in groups organizing activities, cooking and baking with the people at the centers, and discussing and spending time with them.
Students reflected upon and analyzed their service in relation to theoretical knowledge, searched for information, and studied themes related to the service. They also evaluated their experiences and generated feedback and ideas for developing the work of the centers.
Joint meetings were used for sharing and reflecting on the experiences and analysis and sharing of knowledge.
Employees of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute participated in joint meetings, and some of the joint meetings were also organized in their premises. The Deaconess Institute also received the students’ final reports from the course.
According to students’ self-reports in an anonymous evaluation survey, the course had the biggest impact on their ability to help and understand others, societal motivation, ability to adapt to new situations, human relations, communication skills, ability to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and ability to ponder people’s life situations with them, and ability to work in different cultural contexts.