Liberal Studies students at GC are destined to become substantive leaders of tomorrow's world. As such, they are required to understand and exemplify the role of a scholar in society, not as a passive critic alone, but as an active participant who knows that to learn is to accept a responsibility for helping improve the world. We encourage all our students to participate in service learning, a method of achieving complex personal growth through shared community experiences.
According to the GC Office of Academic Engagement, Service Learning "enhances the total learning experience, as students are encouraged to consider their service within the context of the larger social, political, and economic issues that impact their project. As such, they are empowered to make positive contributions to their communities utilizing concepts and principles learned in class." Service learning is actually "theory-based learning," as students are fully expected to apply the principles they are learning to actual real-world situations. This hands-on learning both reinforces their knowledge and motivates higher conceptualization of ambiguous issues.
In both the Liberal Studies Seminar and the Liberal Studies Capstone courses, our students are required to engage in service learning to support their program of study. This experience gives students an opportunity to engage the community and cultivate their awareness of complex local issues. The learning objectives are carefully designed by students and faculty to demonstrates interdisciplinary learning and promote an understanding of civic engagement.
"Interdisciplinary understanding is 'the capacity to integrate knowledge and modes of thinking in two or more disciplines to produce a cognitive advancement' that would not be possible using single disciplinary means. This advancement includes 'explaining a phenomenon, solving a problem, creating a product, or raising a new question' (Boix Mansilla, 2005, p.16)."
(Repko, Allen F. 2008. Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.)