We have been asked to set up a booth at the Open Day in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the university. The focus of our booth is a floor map showing the numbers and varieties of service-learning projects in each of the 18 districts of Hong Kong. There is also a wall map of the world, showing the projects in mainland China, Taiwan and foreign countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Rwanda. These maps and the samples of products produced by these projects highly the achievements of service-learning at our university so far: that we offer 60+ subjects each year to 4,000 students. That’s what we refer to as SL 1.0
When we reflect on what we have done in the past seven years, and the state of service-learning education at some of the best universities, such as those we visited in the USA last month, we realised we have come a long way, but still have much to learn, and a long way to go.
We are now moving on to SL 2.0. We need to take service-learning to the next level. Our focus is better, more advanced, and more impactful service-learning subjects and associated projects. We need to provide a path of continued development for the students, perhaps integrating leadership education into the program, perhaps allowing the students to take a minor in social engagement. We need to further internationalise service-learning, providing more overseas opportunities, collaborating more with foreign universities, setting up more student exchange. And all of these have to be backed up by rigours research.
Then I noted that the VIPs on stage at the opening ceremony are all male. It is a symptom of the need for more diversity in the university, and also for service-learning. We often found more females than males among the more enthusiastic and better-performing students in service-learning. There are also plenty of females among the more junior teaching and administrative staff for service-learning; but the higher the level, the fewer is the number of females. The situation in the USA appears to be similar.
There is indeed much to do yet.