Service Learning and Civic Engagement in Today’s Classroom.


Speakers: Debra Rudder Lohe, PhD (CTE), Gina M. Merys, PhD (CTE), Bryan Sokol, PhD (CSCE), and Leah Sweetman, PhD (CSCE).

"The Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and the Center for Service and Community Engagement (CSCE) will conduct a round-table discussion with faculty, staff and other members of the Saint Louis University community. The objective of this session is to facilitate dialogue among faculty and staff to educate, stimulate and prepare students to be future agents of social change. With its emphasis on education and service, we hope that this round-table discussion will inform the community on how the classroom is a corner for service learning and ‘civic engagement'. According to the American Association of Colleges and Universities, recent research indicates large gaps between universities' stated commitments to service learning and civic engagement and the realities of students' experiences in these areas. As SLU seeks to prepare its students for lives of meaningful civic engagement and service around the globe, it seems more urgent than ever to invite a conversation on this topic."

Biographical Sketch of Speakers

Debra Rudder Lohe is Director of the Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence at Saint Louis University. She received her doctorate in English and American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, where she formerly served as director of the composition program.

Gina M. Merys earned a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Saint Louis University. After several years as a faculty member and the writing program director at Creighton University, she returned to SLU in August 2011 to join the Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence as the Assistant Director for Faculty and Graduate Student Development.

Bryan Sokol is trained as a child development researcher, with a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. In addition to his role as the CSCE director, Bryan is a tenured, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University, where he has taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students since 2007.Bryan's intellectual hero is the American pragmatist philosopher, John Dewey. Bryan sees the CSCE's goals to connect the university to the broader community through experiential forms of learning and research partnerships as being closely aligned with Dewey's efforts to work at the intersection of several scholarly disciplines (e.g., philosophy, psychology, and education) and to live the life of a "public intellectual."

Leah Sweetman has a background in urban community development, teaching, and non-profit leadership. Through her work, she assists faculty with creating new service-learning courses or redesigning existing courses to integrate meaningful community service and reflection experiences into the curriculum. Leah received her Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis and Administration from Saint Louis University. She has a research interest in how colleges and universities prepare students to serve in new and diverse settings and is working on ways to integrate those best practices into SLU's service programs.

Information on Center for Teaching Excellence
The mission of the Paul C. Reinert, S. J. Center for Teaching Excellence is to support Saint Louis University faculty and graduate students so that they can better serve the intellectual, spiritual, and social needs of all learners. To fulfill this mission the Center:
• Helps faculty and graduate students find their own directions, meaning and pedagogical style in the context of Jesuit traditions of education.
• Develops a community of scholars who encourage and challenge each other through mutual inspiration, mentoring and renewal.
• Supports faculty and graduate students in the development of skills and knowledge of pedagogical approaches using technology and other teaching innovations.

Information on Center for Service and Community Engagement
The Saint Louis University Center for Service and Community Engagement creates a coordinated interface between the University and the urban communities that surround it, seeking ultimately to prepare participants to be effective servant leaders and agents for social change, as well as to foster the creation of a just and equitable society by supporting efforts of students, faculty, and staff in the areas of community service, service learning, academic research, and community partnerships.
We serve the entire SLU campus as a clearinghouse and consultants for:
• Service opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
• Academic learning and community engagement.
• Research to identify strategies that will enhance a just and equitable society.

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