On 9 February, our university launched the PolyU Serves Community Service campaign. Most importantly, the university has decided to make Service Learning a credit-bearing activity, and compulsory for all undergraduates starting with the cohort of 2012-13. We have already developed a number of Service Learning subjects. Two have been piloted (trial run), 8 more will be piloted this year, and more will be coming.
In fact, I taught the first pilot, Service Learning and Civic Engagement in the Information Age, in the summer of 2011, together with 2 other colleagues, G and V. V took 10 students to Xinjiang. G and I took 30 students to Cambodia - much of which had already posted here earlier. Please click on the label “Cambodia” or “Service Learning” for earlier posts.
I have realized that when students engage in serious and meaningful community service, they learn a lot from the experience. For years, I have been advocating creating credit-bearing academic subjects on service learning in our university - so that students can be taught properly, supervised properly, and their efforts be recognized properly.
Now my dreams have been realized beyond my imagination. Not only Service Learning can be credit-bearing, it is compulsory for all students. The university feel that social engagement is a critical element of personal development. In fact, it is so important that all students should benefit from it, and not just those who want to do it.
The challenge ahead is huge. How do you arrange for 3,000 students to engage in 40 hours of meaningful community service every year? Few, if any, universities have taken such a bold step before. Yet it is also an exciting time. We dream that one day, our students will be known by their social engagement. It is my mission.