martes, 21 de octubre de 2014

UAM leads a European project for the development of civic engagement through Service-Learning in Higher Education

We have been awarded 340,000 € for the project "Europe Engage - Developing a Culture of Civic Engagement through Service-Learning Within Higher Education in Europe", a KA2 Action for Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education. The 3-year project aims at promoting service-learning as a pedagogical approach that develops civic engagement in higher education and creating a European network.

The Bolonia Declaration states that, “A Europe of knowledge is now widely recognised as an irreplaceable factor for social and human growth and as an indispensable component to consolidate and enrich the European citizenship, capable of giving its citizens the necessary competences to face the challenges of the new millennium, together with an awareness of shared values and belonging to a common social and cultural space. The importance of education and educational co-operation in the development and strengthening of stable, peaceful and democratic societies is universally acknowledged as paramount, the more so in view of the situation in South East Europe”. Central to this ambition goal will be the adoption of approaches within higher education that allow for the development of this aspiration. Once such approach is through Service- Learning.

Service-Learning is a pedagogical approach that connects academic learning to community service through partnership, reciprocity, reflection and social contact. The values of trust, mutuality, co-creation, inter-dependence and mutuality are central to community-university service learning partnership. Students learn with the community and work on community related and/or directed projects that can enhance academic learning, the community and the process towards the co-creation of knowledge. Students in turn attain academic credit based on the work they undertaken within the community and the knowledge they harness form the experience. Research indicates that Service-Learning strengthen significant learning, facilitates the development of professional competences, improves the students´ motivation, critical thinking and social commitment, as well as social relations in the classroom. It is a tool for sustainability curriculum, as it increases the effectiveness of the education for a sustainable development while focusing on diversity, multiculturalism, functional diversity, inclusion, human rights and the more vulnerable groups. 

Even though in many parts of the world, over the last decade, there has been growth and development in the areas of civic engagement and service learning within higher education, in Europe much remains to be done. In Europe there are isolated experiences in some countries and an Irish association (Campus Engage) devoted to promoting S-L in Higher Education, but there is a need to identify such experiences and create networks based on common grounds. 

The Project is led by us (Autonomous University of Madrid -Research Group “Educational Change for Social Justice” GICE) and co-directed by the University of Ireland Galway. Higher education institutions involved include:

1. Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain (leader)
2. National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland (co-director)
3. University of Brighton, United Kingdom                     
4. University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany                   
5. Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Netherlands                 
6. Instituto Superior de Psicología Aplicada, Portugal                   
7. University of Zagreb, Croatia
8. University of Bologna, Italy
9. Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
10. Ghent University, Belgium
11. University of Applied Science-Krems, Austria
12. University of Helsinki, Finland

For more information contact me at, Lorraine Mc Ilrath (co-director)  or Héctor Opazo (project manager)

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