Center for Experiential Learning|Loyola University Chicago

Center for Experiential Learning


UNIV 290: Seminar in Community Based Service & Leadership

Seminar in Community-based Service and Leadership

UNIV 290 is a seminar course exploring the theory and practice of community-based service and leadership through service-learning.  As a seminar course, students are expected to prepare, reflect upon, and actively participate in discussions about texts exploring themes of civic engagement, community development, social justice, leadership, and service for the common good.  Our in-class conversations are enriched and enhanced by stories from and reflections on each student's practical experience of providing 40-50 hours of volunteer service at a single, local non-profit organization of his or her choosing.  Throughout the semester, students blog about their experiences working in the community, as well as prepare an electronic portfolio about their service site so as to educate the broader Loyola community about their organization and the issues to which it responds.  Many students use UNIV 290 as an opportunity to reflect on and learn more from existing volunteer commitments; others take advantage of the course as an opportunity to explore new community-based opportunities that advance their personal, professional, or academic goals and priorities.
Attendance at the class is mandatory, and students' volunteer service must be completed during the course of the term for which they are registered.  As a service-learning class, UNIV 290 fulfills the university's "Engaged Learning" requirement.

UNIV 290 is offered three times per year, during the Spring, Summer (C), and Fall terms.  It is taught by Chris Skrable, Loyola's Service-Learning Program Manager, in cooperation with other members of the CEL staff.  Students may register for UNIV 290 with the instructor's permission.  The class generally meets on Wednesday afternoons from 4:15-5:30 PM on the Lake Shore Campus.  Beginning in Summer 2012, summer sessions of UNIV 290 will be offered in an online format to accommodate students whose volunteer roles are located outside of the Chicagoland area.
Before being extended permission to register for the class, students must contact the instructor indicating that they:
  1. understand the nature of the class and its assignments (as described above) AND
  2. have made significant progress in securing a substantial (40-50 hour/semester) volunteer position at an appropriate community-based organization of their choosing. 

The staff of the Center for Experiential Learning is available to work with students to identify and "sign up" with an agency that suits their personal, academic, and professional goals.  Students should begin that process before the end of the previous semester, either by taking advantage of the CEL's walk-in hours (M-F, 1-4 PM in Sullivan 295) to discuss volunteer opportunities or by setting up a meeting with the instructor directly.  Students may schedule an appointment (or a phone meeting, if preferred) by contacting the front desk of the Career Development Center at 773.508.7716.  Students may also find it helpful to look at potential agencies in the CEL's community partner resource guide ( ) and/or on Loyola's RamblerLink system ( ); these will give them an idea of available opportunities, and may help to jump start their imaginations in preparation for our conversation.

Note that finding an appropriate volunteer position for UNIV 290 is the student's responsibility.  The instructor will gladly support them in this effort (suggesting agencies, recommending contacts, helping to navigate applications processes and background checks, etc.), but cannot secure a position for any individual student--that depends entirely on the student's initiative. Current volunteer commitments may be appropriate for the course; if a student is interested in continuing a current volunteer commitment for UNIV 290, he/she should indicate the agency and his/her anticipated role there in the initial email to the instructor.
Once a student has demonstrated progress in securing a volunteer position with a particular community agency, the instructor will extend permission to register for the class in LOCUS. Permissions will be extended on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Once permission has been granted, the student is still responsible for registering for the class (using LOCUS).  Permission to register does not guarantee that the student will have a space in the class--that will depend on whether or not the student registers for the course in a timely manner, and before the class fills and closes.
A sample syllabus for UNIV 290 is available here.  Examples of students' work associated with UNIV 290 (blogs, ePortfolios, etc.) can also be found on the Service-Learning program website (cf.

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