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The Agapé Center for Service and Learning

Service-Learning FAQ's

What is service-learning?

Service-Learning refers to a type of curriculum that intentionally integrates learning with community service in a credit-bearing academic course. Students participate in an authentic service activity which meets needs identified by the community (designed within the framework of a mutually beneficial relationship) and then they critically reflect on that activity. Thus, students gain a deep understanding of course content, a commitment to socially responsible citizenship, and develop skills and understanding needed to contribute to civic well-being. 

What are the components of a service-learning course?

Content Component:

  • Introduces students to research problems and community partnerships that address a significant need in the community, region, country, or the world.
  • Prepares students for service by studying theories and gaining academic knowledge relevant to the problem.
  • Prepares students for service by orienting them to the problem and the context in which they will work.
  • Uses readings and discussions to connect learning to College-Wide Educational Objectives.

Service Component:

  • Provides opportunities for students to express their commitments and use their disciplinary knowledge in an authentic, real-life setting.
  • Enables students to personally connect with people involved with the issue to which the service is directed. Ideally, this will include a relationship with persons directly affected.
  • Relates programs with long-term commitments to the communities and issues they address.
  • Includes sufficient contact time to allow students to build relationships with people facing the issue and to develop deep understanding.

Reflection Component:

  • Includes students, faculty, and community partners.
  • Requires written and oral reflection activities.
  • Critically analyzes the theories, structures, and assumptions of students' academic disciplines in the context of the service experience.
  • Helps students to link their values and academic learning to other parts of the curriculum and co-curriculum.
  • Encourages students to evaluate their personal values and commitments, and to grow in discipleship and toward a mature Christian faith.
  • Helps students develop a theological understanding of vocation that enables them to contextualize their faith.



Community Partners:

Why would I want to engage in service-learning?
Becoming involved in service-learning:

  • Creates greater awareness of community needs.
  • Provides potential long-term volunteers.
  • Expands opportunities for educational partnerships.
  • Provides access to campus resources.

What is required of community partners in service-learning?

Service-learning requires a commitment between community partners, faculty, and students to ensure that the project or program is mutually beneficial and provides opportunities for mutual engagement. Therefore, community partners will be asked to work with faculty to ensure that programs are appropriate for particular courses of study. Such programs/projects should be consistent and provide the opportunity for continued relationship-building between organization representatives, faculty, and students.

How do I get involved in service-learning?

If you are a community partner and are interested in participating in service-learning, contact the Agape Center at 717-766-2511 ext. 7255.


How do I get started in planning a service-learning course?

If you are interested in designing and implementing a service-learning course, we suggest that you review the components of service-learning coursework listed above and begin to contemplate how this may be developed into a course curriculum. Then, you may want to contact Chad Frey, Director of the Agape Center for Service and Leanring who can assist you through the SL course proposal process.  The Agape Center can also put you in touch with the designated Service-Learning faculty representative from your school.  CLick here to view the online course proposal which you can use to submit your course to the Service-Learning Committee. This will then be reviewed by the committee, and feedback will be provided in a timely manner.


How do I find a service-learning course?

Service-Learning Courses are designated by a "SERV" attribute in the course listings. However, for your convenience, a list of service-learning courses to be offered can be found by searching courses by service-learning attribute on "The View" in MCSquare.

How are service-learning courses different than regular courses?
Service learning courses provide experiential educational opportunities that allow you to apply classroom knowledge to the real world. Therefore, you will not only have a regularly scheduled classroom component to the course, but you will also spend time out in the community, working with others. The courses, in general, incorporate three primary components of service, content and reflection.  (E.g. for a 3 credit course over the course of a semester you could expect about 20hrs of service (roughly 2 hrs a week), 10 hrs of content, and 10 hrs of reflection for a total of 40hrs.)


Who can I contact to learn more about service-learning at Messiah?

To learn more about service-learning opportunities at Messiah, contact the Agape Center at ext. 7255, or to speak with someone regarding a particular service and learning opportunity being offered, check out the Contact Us page to connect you to the appropriate person.  Please visit the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research as well as AROMA for specialized service-learning opportunities