Each semester, undergraduate students in the UCF Women’s Studies Program turn knowledge into action by completing Service Learning projects with community partners. In the classroom, students learn theories and methods of analyzing women’s roles in history and contemporary society and the importance of activism on behalf of women. With Service Learning, students take that knowledge into the community and learn, with the help of community organizations, how to make social change. Students complete fifteen hours of community service and deliver a final project based on that partnership; in class, they present their work to their peers and write a final reflective essay that links their community activism with their classroom knowledge of women’s and gender issues.
Benefits of Service Learning to Women’s Studies students
- Students apply their classroom knowledge in non-academic situations.
- Students interact with real-world audiences, and agency liaisons and community members provide feedback on their work.
- Students gain experience outside of the classroom and learn valuable time- and resource- management skills.
- Students face live dilemmas, both ethical and everyday, and similar to those they would confront in their chosen careers.
- Students make valuable connections with community leaders and community organizations.
Women’s Studies Courses with Service Learning Components
- WST3015: Introduction to Women’s Studies
- WST3500: Gender Issues in Community Activism
- WST3561: Third Wave Feminism
Examples of Service Learning Projects by Women’s Studies Students
- Awareness campaigns, including The Clothesline Project and Love Your Body Day
- Fundraising projects and supply and/or clothing drives for organizations such as Harbor House, Coalition for the Homeless, Salvation Army Domestic Violence Program, Don’t Skirt the Issue, and Planters of the Home (Cape Town, South Africa)
- Formation of and/or activism in UCF Women’s Studies affiliated student groups, including Voices of Planned Parenthood (VOX), the National Organization for Women at UCF (NOW at UCF), Equality UCF, American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)
- Tutoring and job-skills assistance for disadvantaged or at-risk teens at Crosswinds/Rainwater Center of Brevard, Hacienda Girls Ranch, PACE Center for Girls
- Working directly with community partners to fill a need such as website development, event planning, phone and reception, training as a Victim Advocate or Guardian ad Litem, etcetera
- Working with the Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP) as Big Sisters and/or volunteers
What students are saying about Service Learning and Women’s Studies
The greatest benefit of Service-Learning, accoring to student Brittany Bernstein, is the
chance to work in a large group with like-minded women . . . and to actually feel like you make a difference in the community… I have gained the courage to make myself heard and to use my voice, as these authors have, to make visible the injustices of the world and to expose my own truths. . . I am inspired to live my life as a dangerous woman, who won’t ‘give up or shut up.’
Learn more about Service Learning on the Experiential Learning Web site.