Howard Rosing is the executive director of the Steans Center, adjunct faculty in Community Service Studies, Anthropology, and Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies and an affiliate faculty member in Community Psychology.
"How do universities integrate community-based practice into curriculum? I like to think that DePaul answers that question as well as, if not better than, any university in the US, as we strive to create and support service learning projects and community internships that reflect the institution’s mission.
"At DePaul, we conceptualize service-learning as pedagogy. It is not synonymous with community service or volunteering; rather, it is an established teaching method with a great deal of scholarship to support its value for student learning and community impact. Most importantly, service learning, when it's done well, is characterized by a strong sense of reciprocity between the university and the community.
"Urban universities have a long history of treating surrounding neighborhoods as laboratories for community research. What makes service-learning different is a mutual agreement between community partners who benefit from supporting students in service projects that are integrated into curriculum.
"That’s also where DePaul stands out We not only insist on such reciprocity, but we view community partners as critical in the educational process. We see organizations as co-educators who teach DePaul students about a variety of issues that cannot be fully comprehended within the classroom or from textbooks.
"First and foremost, through service learning and community internships, students shift their mindset toward viewing underserved communities as having assets rather than simply needs. Steans Center programs and projects recognize that communities are spaces for knowledge production, that our partners use their knowledge to educate DePaul students transforming them personally and professionally, and that students can play an active role in supporting local community development efforts while developing intellectually and professionally.
"By institutionalizing service-learning during the past 13 years, DePaul has greatly contributed to development of a national and now global movement to integrate community engagement initiatives more deeply into higher education curricula.
"Ideally, this positions DePaul not just as a university of academic excellence but as a powerful producer of social change. I would say that this is happening not so much by service-learning but through its product: the socially engaged leaders that we graduate and send off into important decision-making positions locally, nationally and globally."