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Community Engagement Programs

Student Outreach : University Service-Learning Turns Twenty

ASU has one of the largest, longest-running and best-designed service-learning programs in the country—and it all began in the Department of English. Th is past October, the remarkable success of the program was celebrated with a campus and community gathering in Old Main’s Carson Ballroom.

Back in 1993, Professor of English Gay Brack, herself a volunteer tutor for low income children at The Salvation Army Phoenix South Mountain Corps Community Center, approached Keith Miller, then-Director of what is now known as English’s Writing Programs. Brack had a unique request: Could she offer internship credit to her ENG 301 “Writing for the Professions” students for designing workshops and presenting what they were learning in her class to youth enrolled at the Center? Miller not only said “yes,” he asked her to pilot an additional internship for ENG 102 “First Year Composition” students, as well. Th ese students would tutor children after school and then use the social issues they were encountering as the basis of the research and writing they were doing in their composition class.

The Service-Learning Program was born, but Brack didn’t stop there. Soon she had math and science faculty on board, and English offerings expanded to include all areas of the department. The growing program was moved to the Division of Undergraduate Academic Services as its off erings increased and enrollment numbers soared—ASU students wanted to be involved. Brack’s design included leadership, capstone, and graduate student support for the ASU Service-Learning interns at their community placements, and work-study eligible students were able to help fund their education through federal America Reads and America Counts programs.

In 2009, the program became University Service-Learning and moved its base to the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College where it has thrived, due in great part to the work of its current Director, Deborah Ball, and her dedicated staff . For the past few years an average of 480 students have participated annually, completing 38,000 hours of service in the community each year.

From "accents on English'
Newsletter of the Department of English at Arizona State Universtiy
Volume 17
Issue 1
Fall 2013 /Winter 2014
by Jan Kelly

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