By CALIESHA COMLEY
This past April, the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) committee presented its research and proposed a plan to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for improving the quality of education Georgetown students receive to be evaluated for reaffirmation. Reaffirmation, more commonly known as reaccreditation, evaluates the college’s structural effectiveness, as well as the harmony of the college’s programs and cultural context in creating an institution most conducive to learning and that best meets the needs of its students. One of the main tasks of reaffirmation is to encourage colleges like Georgetown to conduct a self-assessment that can uncover challenges barring an institution’s goals and student performance levels. The SACS committee offered constructive ways for the QEP committees to alter and expand their plan to further cater to student interests and the effectiveness of the plan.
After nearly three years of diligent research, of constructing and reconstructing a plan to enhance the quality of education at Georgetown, the QEP committee is excited to have established a Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) on campus as a consummation of its efforts. The CCE will focus, as the QEP has planned since its origination, on incorporating service learning and civic engagement into classroom experiences and even course work.
The mission of the CCE, as found on its website, explains, “Georgetown College’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) partners with faculty and community partners to inspire our students to become effective agents of change in their chosen professions and communities. Through strong ties between academic learning goals and service, structured critical reflection and engagement with the community through collaborative partnerships, the CCE heightens the college’s environment for spiritual, intellectual and social growth.”
The CCE has been hard at work this semester continuing to engage community partners and expanding the pool of interested community members as the program grows. As of now, eight courses at Georgetown have a service learning component. These courses span the academic spectrum, including courses from the English, sociology, psychology, biology, art, philosophy, education and religion departments.
A group of students from an art class has been hosting an art club at Garth Elementary, English students are currently working with Scott County High School students to plan a college preparatory and mental health fair for the high school and students in the Environmental Ethics and Philosophy class work in the campus community garden and with urban-gardening organization, Seedleaf. Partnerships are also in effect this semester with the Ed Davis Center and the city Conservation District. Also, freshman Seminar continues to engage in the service opportunities they always have, but now they emphasize a reflection component that makes the class truly service learning qualified.
As you can see, Georgetown students are busy putting the things they learn in the lecture into action in the community and have consistently identified the experience as exciting and a great way to visualize and actually “do” what they learn.
In the future, the CCE will work with on-campus programs such as Spanish Immersion, the Intensive English Program, the Harper Gatton Leadership Scholars and the Christian Leader Scholars as well as organizations like GSI, Sociology Club and others to deepen the civic engagement experience through avenues other than classes.
As the program grows, students can expect to see more service learning experiences incorporated into more classes. Although these classes will not be flagged on the scheduling flier in student mailboxes, the course catalogue and individual syllabi will identify these courses with a service learning component.
With the introduction of the CCE comes a welcomed addition to the Georgetown campus community who will serve as the director of the program, Mrs. Shannon Cribbs. She is a fresh face with exciting ideas for the future of service learning at Georgetown. In addition to serving as the director for the CCE, Cribbs is also the Special Assistant to the Provost. When asked about the emergence of the CCE, she emphasized, “Civic engagement has been a part of campus culture for a long time, but the CCE provides an umbrella under which these efforts can be highlighted and organized.” She encourages students to check out the CCE on Facebook, Twitter and their website.
Student input is always welcome, so if you have an idea for a service learning project, you can submit it at the web address above. Although the CCE will have to wait until December for official approval, the program is already making positive waves for the campus and the Georgetown community by allowing students to engage what they learn in class.