Sierra University Addresses "Global Realities"
by Partnering with Community
By infusing service throughout its academic curriculum,
La Sierra University has "sought
to become a genuinely community-based institution" according to Rennie
B. Schoepflin and his colleagues at the Riverside, California, university. Over
the last five years, not only have student curricula and pedagogical practices
been revised to integrate service activities with theoretical contexts, but
programs have been instituted that partner the university with community organizations,
transforming La Sierra into an institution dedicated to the "global realities"
of today's world. Dr. Schoepflin, Associate Professor of History and Chair of
La Sierra's Department of History, Politics, and Society, writes that "higher
education must dedicate itself to a partnership with organizations outside of
the academy that are committed to creative change through communal interaction."
Changes that La Sierra has instituted include:
- General Education/Course-Based Service Learning
- In 1996, a service component was phased into the general studies program
requiring all students to complete a minimum of 15 hours of community service
for each year in residence. Students choose from a wide range of projects
to complete this annual requirement.
- Arlanza/La Sierra Community Collaborative
- Through this program, La Sierra students serve as mentors and tutors to
students at four elementary schools in the local community. In the past year
more than 100 La Sierra students have provided these services to as many as
250 local elementary school children. La Sierra University has also recently
partnered with Riverside's Alvord school district and Riverside Community
College in the planning, building, and operation of the Center for Innovative
Teaching. Supported by an initial grant of $10 million from the California
governor's office, this new district school is scheduled for ground-breaking
- Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) - Since
1995 La Sierra students, working through SIFE, have developed such projects
as Kids-R-Preneurs, My First Bank Account, and Reduce, Reuse,
Recycle-Waste Exchange. These and other projects involve La Sierra students
in teaching, and consequently learning, socially responsible, free enterprise-based
solutions to meet the needs of underprivileged individuals and groups. These
solutions can equip all of those involved in the program, both La Sierra students
and those they teach, with the tools to help them succeed and improve their
- Institute for Cultural Exchange - Through
this program, La Sierra facilitates a communal dialogue on cultural issues
among business people, healthcare professionals, educators, government and
civic leaders, and members of faith-based organizations to "promote community
leadership and self-sufficiency." To this end, La Sierra is partnering
with the Family Service Association of Western Riverside County, an institution
committed to identifying and capitalizing on resources and assets within a
community, in order to promote community leadership and self-sufficiency.
La Sierra University will be among those institutions
presenting sessions at AAC&U's Annual Meeting, "Changing Students in
a Changing World," scheduled for January 23 through 26, 2002, in Washington,
DC. For details on this conference, see www.aacu.org/meetings/annual.cfm.
For more information about La Sierra University and
its service learning components, see www.lasierra.edu.
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