SERVICE-LEARNING IN THE UNIVERSITY: BUILDING CITIZENSHIP

A. Francisco Amat, L. Moliner Miravet

Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
Service-Learning (SL) is a proposal based on service for the community and learning/knowledge acquisition combined in a single well articulated project. It is an up-to-date methodology, but it involves elements that are familiar to everybody such as voluntary service and the transmission of knowledge and values. This paper describes an educational innovation experience of SL developed at the Universitat Jaume I of Castelló (Spain) during the academic year 2009/2010. The initiative described in this paper was carried out in the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón (UJI) as part of the project Experiencias de aprendizaje servicio con grupos interdisciplinares de educación y comunicación en temas de ciudadanía y cultura de paz (experiences of service-learning with interdisciplinary groups from education and communication courses on issues of citizenship and the culture of peace), funded by the university’s educational support unit. This project, which was carried out by an interdisciplinary team teaching the Infant and Primary Teacher Training, Educational Psychology and Audiovisual Communication degrees, sought to raise critical awareness and active citizenship among members of the University community. A total of 23 projects were undertaken, each one of which sought to develop a value or an issue related to civic education and was carried out in a specific action environment. Of these groups, 14 worked in the field of formal education (educational interventions in infant, primary and high schools) and 9 worked in the public sphere (organizing campaigns, cinema forums and activities in the city). The topics they chose fell into four broad areas: values related to interculturality and respect for diversity; values associated with caring for the environment; values linked to equality; and values related to critical citizenship. The aspects that most caught the students’ attention were autonomy and connection with practice. The teachers involved in the project have since changed their education practices to place the student at the heart of the course programmes. Service Learning is a methodology that meets many of the challenges we face in today’s society and in the new European higher education framework, and promotes one of the basic functions of the university: the education of citizens with a critical, active and responsible attitude to their environment