May 31 2017 Posted: 11:51 IST

The tours aim to create a Culture for Service Learning and Civic Engagement in Higher Education across Europe

The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway will host two groups of twelve students and twelve academics from the Europe Engage Network for a two-week study tour in June to explore service learning as a teaching approach. 

While the students are here they will be trained by TechSpace to create digital media resources for a number of local community partners including Galway Community Circus, Café Saol and Smart Consent. TechSpace is a national movement that aims to change the lives of young people in Ireland by becoming Ireland’s leading creative technology network for outcome focused youth development.

Lorraine McIlrath, Coordinator of the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway said: “We are honoured and delighted to welcome the students and academics to NUI Galway to experience the work that we do in the wider community to enhance and develop a culture of community engagement.  This project has enabled diverse European countries to learn about different conceptions and approaches to civic engagement and service learning. The relationships forged through his three-year project will have lasting effect.”

Europe Engage is a project, which brings together twelve European universities to further develop service learning and civic engagement within higher education.  It is co-led by Pilar Aramburuzabala from the Universdad Autónoma De Madrid and Lorraine McIlrath from NUI Galway. Since 2014, the Europe Engage partners have worked to gather knowledge on existing service learning practices and the evidence demonstrated within their universities, regarding their commitment to this educational approach.

This project has worked to publish a report outlining the results from a survey conducted among the twelve partner universities. This report, ‘EUROPE ENGAGE – Developing a Culture of Civic Engagement through Service-Learning within Higher Education Europe’ documents the nature of the work of these universities in service learning and civic engagement. Information regarding the internal policies, strategies, resources and practices was also gathered to gain an understanding of the perspective of each institution regarding civic engagement. 

The Europe Engage partners are happy that this report provides a ‘snapshot’ from which the project can establish a baseline and work towards future targets, plans and growth of activities. The project team have also developed a MOOC, which is a free online course, which provides participants with an introduction to service-learning pedagogy and methods of integrating a meaningful community service into the curriculum, as well as the evaluation. A book is also currently in development with Taylor Francis, which will add to the resources available, supporting educators across Europe in using service learning as a pedagogical teaching approach.

The CKI is renowned internationally for its work in developing civic engagement as a core pillar of the NUI Galway experience. Learning from the CKI, the students will share their experiences, engage with other cultures and disciplines about the potential diverse reach of civic engagement and will also reflect on their experiences and learning and present as part of a keynote panel at the 7th International Symposium on Service Learning, also hosted by NUI Galway in June as well.

For further Information contact: Lorraine McIlrath, Director of the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway at 087-7682099

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