EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING THROUGH LEARNING COMMUNITIES SHED LIGHT ON SOCIAL DIVERSITY

M. Dono-Koulouris

St. John's University (UNITED STATES)
Experiential educational principles are based on the philosophy of John Dewey who “interprets education as the scientific method by means which man studies the world, acquires cumulatively knowledge of meanings and values, these outcomes, however, being data for critical study and intelligent living”. It is believed that “if an experience arouses curiosity, strengthens initiative, and sets up desires and purposes that are sufficiently intense to carry a person over dead places in the future, continuity works in a very different way. Every experience is a moving force” (Dewey,1938). Education shouldn’t just be about reading, lecturing, and testing but encouraging students to think outside the box giving them the tools to look at things in a different context not to taking what is said at face value. As we observe the changes taking place in our young people, it is imperative to look at how they are educated in a different light. It is evident that students of today are different from those of twenty years ago and it is our responsibility, as educators, to encourage them to learn through discovery allowing them to be active participants in their education.

Since the overall goal of college is to educate its students, knowingly understanding that education in a global world presents special, dynamic challenges it is evident that educators must look at teaching and learning in a different context. Experiential learning, is a tool by which educators can and should utilize in bringing their students to a higher level fostering a greater understanding of the world around them.

This paper will demonstrate how, through an experiential program within an interdisciplinary learning community students enrolled in two core classes, Discover New York and Scientific Inquiry studied the effects of Hurricane Sandy in relation to the neighborhood, the health factors, and ecological changes shedding light on critical thinking and social diversity giving students a critical consciousness and ethical perspective that will prepare them for service and leadership roles in the local, national, and international spheres.