From Service Learning to Engaged Learning:
European Innovations in Study Abroad

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April 26-27, 2018 
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Third level institutions both in the USA and Europe are showing an increasing interest in experiential learning and applied projects that are responsive to social issues and the development of new and innovative pedagogies. University teachers now recognize that quality engaged learning can improve learning achievement, retention, plus a range of generic and transferable skills. In addition to the disciplinary learning outcomes desired for all students, engaged learning experiences are increasingly recognised as an essential part of the curriculum to develop social, moral and civic responsibility.

There is a growing awareness that students today resonate with engaged learning experiences that deliver productive outcomes for communities as well as themselves. Many students appreciate being involved in community-based projects that give them real-world experiences and allow them to integrate theory with practice.

This forum will be dedicated to exploring the ways that the international study abroadprogramme can provide academic and credit bearing, engaged learning experiences underpinned by relevant supports to students and communities in order to deliver maximum impact for participating communities and learning outcomes for students.

Using the University of Limerick’s Practicum programme as a case study and template, it will highlight the potential for Study Abroad and International students to experience unique culturally immersed and fully accredited learning opportunities in Ireland and how the UL model can be adapted to individual locales.

The UL Practicum, the only one of its kind in Ireland, presents a model of scaffolded support to address academic, student and community needs within collaborative partnerships designed to support all stakeholders. It provides curriculum based accredited learning that deploys academic expertise in response to identified community needs, in applied community projects co-designed and implemented by partnerships comprising university staff, community partners and students. The focus is to present the lessons learned from the partnership approach to developing, implementing, evaluating the UL Practicum model and to compare with traditional models of service learning, leading to a discussion and reflection on same by those attending.

It is intended that the thematic forum will enable participants to focus on the critical elements necessary to improve the quality of European education abroad experiences for US students and in doing so, will:

  • Provide an inclusive and reflective space for dialogue and discussion
  • Create an on-going forum to share best practice, information and resources
  • Establish a network that will sustain the connections and links developed in the panel
  • Enable panel participants to continue discussion on the issues and concerns identified in the panel