Steans Center > For Students > Community Service Studies

Community Service Studies

Community service is an integral part of life for many Americans. Engaging in service to communities raises complex issues that go beyond acts of service to deeper questions about social inequality and equity. Community Service Studies (CSS) connects students to issues of social justice and how we as a society address disparities based on race, class, language, socioeconomic standing and cultural sensitivity. The minor engages students directly with the question of how privilege pervades most activities we associate with community service.

CSS is an interdisciplinary academic program that offers DePaul students a context for critically reflecting upon and engaging in service and volunteerism. It was developed in the late 1990s as part of a university-wide effort to extend opportunities for learning through practice into multiple curricula at DePaul. The CSS academic minor combines courses from several disciplines that provide a framework for viewing community service from different perspectives. The curriculum relies upon Community-based Service Learning (CbSL) courses which fulfill DePaul’s Liberal Studies program’s Junior Year Experiential Learning (JYEL) requirement with twenty five hours of service in the community within a ten-week quarter. This form of experiential learning is designed for students interested in developing a fuller understanding and practice of community service either as a prelude to a future career in service to the community, teaching or to enhance their personal sense of social justice as they enter the world of work and engage with communities. In this way, students are provided with the opportunity to integrate progressively deeper and more challenging forms of service and social engagement with more challenging intellectual reflection.

“Our goal is to expose students to the Vincentian mission of DePaul university and prepare them to engage with communities in their midst and globally,” says program co-director Ginger Hofman. “Our students receive the training and experiential learning opportunities through their core and elective courses and internship experiences that provide them with a theoretical, ethical, social justice and practical framework for their involvement with communities. Our program is flexible and adjusted to a variety of student interests ranging from administrative and academic concerns of participatory democracy and social responsibility to the necessary practical aspects of community development, social activism and work in not-for-profit organizations.”

For more information, contact Nila Ginger Hofman, Faculty Director.