Academic Service-Learning focuses on the mutual benefit of participating students and community agencies. U of T faculty and staff in collaboration with the community partner design placement activities that address a need identified by the agency while ensuring that it aligns with the learning outcomes of the academic course. Academic Service-Learning placements serve as an experiential process for students that may involve primary source material from which students can draw new frames of reference, perspectives and knowledge.
Aboriginal Studies offers Indigenous Theory, Research and Methods (ABS460H1), a course in which Service Learning is built into the curriculum. Students are paired with various Aboriginal Organizations across Toronto aiding these organizations with various projects and day-to-day operations. Students from the 2012/2013 Research Methods course had the following to say about their experience with Service Learning:
“The Service Learning placement at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto has afforded me opportunities to both give and receive. Not only do I staff an advisory committee, but actively participate in decisions that affect my community; not only do I help provide a holiday meal, but take part in the feast with community; and while conducting research at the direction of the First Story Project, I learned more about my community’s past, present and future. Service Learning at NCCT is ceremony”.
“My Service Learning placement allowed me to work with members of the Indigenous theatre community, providing me with practice in creating respectful and reciprocal relationships within an artistic organization. Within a research methods course, I feel it is essential to move beyond the theoretical into realms where we can experience the realities of what fieldwork might entail. Service Learning provided the indispensable practical component”.
“I understood that the ‘beading circle’ at the Native Women’s Centre of Toronto is before anything, a healing circle. The product of their sharing and healing are like beautiful beaded earrings. In my research class last week, Professor Jill Carter talked about the criteria for good research partnerships…I strongly believe that beading circles are a great example of a good partnership”.