UCU is the first university in Ukraine to introduce socially-oriented education
Education today is more than just the transfer of knowledge. This is the influence exercised by the educational institution on society and the country as a whole. There is a great demand for strengthening this interaction, and therefore for an educational approach aimed at building academic knowledge, practical skills and a responsible attitude through problem solving in the community and together with society. Internationally, this approach is known as Service Learning (hereinafter-S-L).
The Ukrainian Catholic University has officially become the first University in our country that has joined the world community S-L and as part of its new Strategy UCU-2025 "University That Serves" begins the introduction of this format of training called "Socially-oriented training".
Within S-L, students internalize educational standards through solving real-world problems in their community. The S-L educational approach ("Community-based learning") motivates students to become more involved in society, and public organizations, in return, receive a realized project, which, in other circumstances, can cost a lot.
According to the Service Learning Institute of California State University Monterey Bay, the cash equivalent of S-L services in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties for 2017-2018 is $ 3.3 million. Therefore, the impact of S-L projects is quite specifically measured financially.
In Ukraine, the essence of the S-L educational approach is outlined by the title "Socially-oriented learning", which combines influence, involvement and responsibility.
According to Nieves Tapia, head of the leading S-L center in Latin America CLAYYS: "Some universities believe that their main task is to achieve academic excellence. We are convinced that the main task of educational institutions is to serve people, and academic success is the best tool for such purposes. S-L is what makes the University relevant to the 21st century."
The main components of S-L:
- real project work together with society and for the community;
- active involvement and leadership of students during the project;
- educational content (curriculum, research, practical tasks) - necessarily tied to social activities.
It is important to understand that S-L is not charity or volunteering, but social change.
The idea of socially-oriented education echoes the thoughts of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, in the sense that it is not necessary to give a person a cup of water every time – it is necessary to show them the way to the lake. So it is in cooperation with the community: if you do not give them the authority to create initiatives – they will passively wait for you to "cups of water" for years.
When implementing S-L projects, it is important to take into account not only the needs of society (which seem obvious), it is necessary to take into account cultural characteristics.
Surveys in the United States showed that 80-90% of students noted the acquired skill to look at social justice differently, to share the opinions of others (other than their own), have more knowledge and ability to defend human rights. 75% of students in Latin America admit: it is good that S-L was compulsory (although at first, they could perceive it without enthusiasm).
The advantage of this format of training is that it allows you to use the acquired knowledge during the classroom - in practice. Community-oriented training is an advantage in the CV, and during the interview with the employer, students will be able to talk about their first professional experience.
An important issue is the additional motivation of students and teachers, the mechanisms of work with public organizations, the authorities of the city or region. A working group has been set by UCU, which is working on this, as well as developing a methodology. In the future, it is also possible to attract business, to establish interdisciplinary cooperation between different faculties of the University; to create an S-L environment in Ukraine and in Eastern Europe as a whole.
To systematize and institutionalize this educational approach in UCU, it is important to collect data on implemented projects that meet the criteria of Service Learning. The UCU is asking to fill out a short form if you know about such projects.