Community Service Learning still has a long way to go

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CordUnsignedSince its inception in 2006, Laurier’s Community Service Learning (CSL) program has attempted to integrate community service within an academic classroom context.

With over 47 newly re-designed CSL courses at both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses combined, it is evident that Laurier is making a significant effort to shift the traditional university focus from in-class academics to more hands-on opportunities.

While not restricted to arts students alone, the primary number of CSL courses fall under the arts umbrella, which has the potential to make arts students feel relevant in a post-secondary environment that too often tells them how unimportant they are.

Since the primary goal of CSL is to give students experience in real world situations that will prepare them for their future careers, there is a significant attempt to introduce practical aspects to help benefit the thousands of unemployed arts students nationwide.

Certainly there are enormous benefits to CSL, especially for those in sociology and psychology classes who want experience working with children, those with special needs or  who simply want useful experience in a communal setting.

However, there appears to be a strategic effort on Laurier’s behalf, to integrate community aspects into courses that have little relevance.
Certain English or global studies courses may benefit from relatable fields, more closely relatable to co-op positions, but placements in daycares or schools can often become more of a hassle than benefit to students with no desire to become teachers.

CSL claims your volunteer time will be two hours a week, it can often extend beyond 15. For students already overwhelmed with school and working part-time to pay for their education, it can be difficult to make time to travel to a placement and then fulfill your role. While the CSL program has obvious positives, especially for students who seek practical alternatives to their university education, the university should avoid adding it to courses it’s not relevant to.

The program could be successful and add practical experience to most degrees, however, the program needs significant work before it can be truly valuable.

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