These Academic Classes Are Integrating Community Service
by Hal Reynolds
Several campus faculty members have been involved this semester in a program to combine traditional classroom learning with community service.
The UC Berkeley/East Bay Partnership for Service is financed in part by a federal grant from the Clinton administration's National Service legislation and supports faculty with mini-grants, graduate student instructors, placement services, AmeriCorps members and technical assistance such as curriculum models and evaluation services.
In Associate Professor Fred Collignon's urban planning process class, students help South Berkeley community agencies with planning and neighborhood development projects.
Paola Timiras says the students in her interdisciplinary course titled "Advances in Aging" are having a positive impact on the community and learning much about the relevance of their studies to the community. Timiras, professor of molecular and cell biology, is co-teaching the class with Timothy White, professor of human biodynamics.
Timiras said she was pleased when one of the senior citizen agencies where her students work wrote praising the program.
Professor William Banks was surprised so many of the students in his two classes--"Introduction to African American Social Institutions" and "The African American Male"--signed up to add community service.
They are working in Oakland schools, the Berkeley Young Adult Project, the Berkeley Partners in Education Program and the Motivate African American Youth for Success Program.
Other participating faculty this semester are Ron Glass in Education, Duane Marsh in City and Regional Planning and Jerrold Takahashi in Asian American Studies.
All together, more than 20 community agencies are receiving volunteer services from the 75 students participating in seven courses incorporating community service.
Among the beneficiaries are the South Berkeley YMCA, Progressive Way, Merchants Association of South Berkeley, Valencia Gardens, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, World Institute on Disability, Hall of Health, Bay Area Hispano Institute, Alzheimer's Center of the East Bay, Chaparral House, North Berkeley Senior Center and Veterans Hospital of San Francisco.
On campus, the service-learning program is managed by Andrew Furco of the Service Learning Research and Development Center in the Graduate School of Education. It provides ongoing technical assistance to faculty and is evaluating the impact of the program on the students, the community and the university.
Faculty interested in applying for support to develop or expand service-learning courses next year, or to obtain information, should contact Furco at 642-3299, or email andy_furco@maillink.
Reynolds is special assistant on National Service/AmeriCorps Office of Undergraduate Affairs.