The offices of Community-Based Learning (CBL) and Community Service support fifteen community-based opportunities, in
addition to nearly 20 CBL courses, for students to participate in. According to Director of Community-Based Learning Dr. Cass Freedland, CBL aims “to build partnerships with the community … deepen student engagement … [and] open opportunities for [the] college to incorporate community-based learning into classes.”
Community Service, while a partner of CBL, is actually a functional area of the Office of Student Engagement. Associate Director of CBL and Community Service Programs Lindsay Johnson ’05 ‘13 is working to “make the two programs seamless.” The difference between the two is that CBL is part of a class and community service is something students elect to do on their own. “The big difference is reflection,” remarked Freedland, which is an important component of CBL, but not always community service. However, Freedland, Johnson, and the student directors of Goucher’s Community Service programs are working to integrate more reflection into the programs.
After Johnson graduated, she worked “in a non-profit/public school partnership” and saw a lot of student volunteers who weren’t always prepared for their role as a volunteer. Johnson realized that she wanted to “create stronger programs that would prepare college students to work in school-based partnerships.” Therefore, she decided to return to Goucher and help student volunteers.
In addition, the Offices of Community Service and CBL incorporate social justice into their programs.
“[Goucher is] thoughtful about exposing students to social justice through coursework, student clubs, speakers, [and] activities” Johnson said. She also explained that Goucher prides itself in having “built a strong foundation” in service and social justice. Freedland and Johnson focused on this important component during their week-long training with Community Service Student Directors before the fall semester began.
The tradition of community service and community-based learning has been with Goucher for many years. The college used to have an academic publication on service learning, and many of the current programs have been around for more than ten years. Goucher has also dedicated two full-time staff positions to support these programs in both the student life and academic divisions and a hired a graduate assistant, Ellie Brown ’11.
In the 2012-2013 school year, 544 students participated in CBL and community service for a total of 18,093 hours. There is always a chance to sign up for a program at the beginning of each semester, or to register for a CBL course.