IMPLEMENTING SERVICE LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION: A COMMUNITY INVESTING PROJECT
The new European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has promoted the use of active teaching and learning methods for education. In this context, the service-learning is considered as a fundamental student-centred method to develop academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in the community. It represents a potentially powerful pedagogy form because it provides a way to link the academic with the practical (Astin et al., 2000) . In addition, Service-Learning helps students to develop critical reflection and enhances their skills in working collaboratively.
The main objective of this research is to provide an opportunity for higher education students to use skills and knowledge in real-life situations using learning methodologies, such as service learning, and to attempt to develop sustainable finance creating a community investment vehicle to their local community.
In a first step, students must make a fieldwork to meet the financial needs of the local community (farmers, people that live in a rural area, women, young people, unemployed, etc.) where they live. In a second step, students must design a community investment vehicle to facilitate social integration and inclusion in the financial system.
Sustainable investing is considered a key topic in higher education due to the development of financial markets and the rising demand of professional trained in aspects related to social responsibility and sustainability of organisations. There are several specific approaches to Sustainable investing. One of the most often used approaches is community investing. Community investing is financing that creates resources and opportunities for economically disadvantaged people and overseas who are underserved by traditional financial institutions.
Service-learning increases motivation and retention of academic skills as specific learning goals are tied to community needs. It is expected that service-learning methodology would provide students with some research skills required in their future profession, as well as to introduce them in a dynamic and practical manner to the new investment possibilities. Moreover, it is expected the improvements included in the educational methodology will help students to solve the problems and difficulties they will find as a consequence of the changes that are being included to move from the current educational system, which is based on magisterial lessons and concepts memorisation, to a new system focused on individual work out of the classroom and professional development of students.
Therefore, this learning experience presents the service-learning as a creative, innovative and effective tool in training practice for students of the higher education, and as an opportunity to increase the students’ motivation and their comprehension of sustainable finance.