Ireland's first Service Learning Academy to address civic engagement in higher e

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

NUI Galway is to host Ireland s first ever Service Learning Academy to examine civic engagement and service learning in higher education. The project, which is a collaborative effort involving NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and Dublin Institute of Technology, will bring together academics from around Ireland to explore the link between universities and the wider community.

The recent establishment of a Civic Taskforce in Ireland has encouraged higher education institutions to address ways to instil values related to citizenship in academic programmes and to encourage students to use their newly acquired skills to the benefit of the wider community. The Academy, which has been funded by the Higher Education Authority, takes place at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone on the 30th and 31st March, 2006.

Service Learning and Community Based Learning are teaching tools that help students take the skills they learn in class and use them in the community. Students assist a disadvantaged sector of society, incorporating theoretical knowledge into practical skills while receiving academic credit. The Academy hopes to establish a network of academics who are interested in embedding community-based learning into higher education.

Service Learning has been a core mission for NUI Galway through the Community Knowledge Initiative, a project started in 2001 that hopes to realise the civic mission of higher education institutes. Funded by Atlantic Philanthropy, this project promotes civic engagement between students and community through teaching, research and volunteering. NUI Galway is viewed as a leader in Ireland in terms of offering these community-based learning opportunities to students and hopes to encourage other institutions to formally recognise these approaches to learning and teaching.

A representative from the Taoiseach's office will be present at the Service Learning Academy to explore the civic dimension of higher education.

ENDS

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