Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University has a tradition of service and a strong commitment to community-engaged learning. In 2009, the University implemented a service-learning (SL) graduation requirement for all undergraduate students, in which all associate degree graduates. Moreover, in 2017, a new initiative was launched to integrate service-learning methodology in all graduate programs in each School.
“Service-learning is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of the course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility,” (Bringle and Hatcher 1995:112).
The University has embraced the concept of Service-Learning for many reasons: it promotes the primary tenets of a Franciscan Education, which focuses on student formation, it helps students to incorporate classroom concepts while addressing real world problems; it further develops the University’s mission of meeting the civic and social needs of the community it serves; and it challenges students to become civically-minded graduates who will be our community leaders of the future.
The University has received recognition from the highest levels of the federal government for several years for its commitment to Service-Learning as evidenced by inclusion on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2006, 2008-2010 and 2012-2015 with Distinction. Additionally, the University received the 2010 Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation.
The University highly values its campus-community partnerships across the state of Louisiana that provide outstanding community-engaged learning opportunities which promote student success. Currently, the University has 134 community partners in 17 parishes within Louisiana. Students, faculty and staff work collaboratively with community partners to serve the most vulnerable in our communities including: underserved youth, the elderly, children and adults with disabilities, the homeless and medically underserved populations. Students are encouraged to understand the social justice issues associated with poverty and how it impacts vulnerable populations. Furthermore, they are empowered to become compassionate change agents through an awareness of social problems in the community and their civic and moral responsibility to make a difference in the lives of those most in need. Examples of recent Service-Learning projects include: CIC-Service-Learning Fellows provide computer literacy classes for senior adults in HUD Elderly Housing to address the issue of social isolation, clinical students in nursing, respiratory therapy, radiology technology and clinical laboratory programs give health and wellness lectures with demonstrations to medically underserved youth in public K-12 schools, physician assistant students provide assistance in federally funded non-profit clinics serving the indigent in the community and students in introductory theology classes read stories to patients at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital.
The Office of Service-Learning is located at 7525 Picardy Ave. on the second floor of the Student Services building. Services provided by the Service-Learning office include support for campus-community partners, community partner and faculty development workshops, S-L teaching resources, student resources, S-L scholarship and resources for external S-L grant writing.