Classes emphasizing community-based learning have had an outstanding impact on my being. Namely, the Sustainable Communities seminar with Elan Shapiro, History of American Environmental Thought with Michael Smith, and Grant and Proposal Writing with Patricia Spencer.
Through these courses, I engaged in meaningful community partnerships. With Sew Green I learned the inner-workings of a nonprofit and promoted sustainability through a “Reusable Bag Workshop.” With the History Center I researched primary sources and presented a report on the typhoid epidemic of 1903. With Veterans’ Sanctuary I helped position the organization for funding, supporting veterans healing from war. From each engagement a tangible final product was accomplished, and everyone involved in the learning process had something of which to be proud.
Unfortunately, as Smith explained in the March 4 issue of The Ithacan, “the college lacks basic administrative infrastructure for supporting [service-learning].” But this is a pedagogy that “bridges the gap between theory and practice, college and the ‘real’ world.” I support Smith’s appeal to the school for development of service-based learning at Ithaca College. I experienced firsthand the way it “elevates community while developing individual potential.” From résumé building to diverse work experiences, these opportunities have guided me towards a future career in sustainability, nonprofits and grant writing.
Ithaca is a conscious community worth getting involved in. I am a better person because of my experiences here. I sincerely hope the college will support community-based learning and more students have the opportunity to experience meaningful community collaborations.
Emily Berg ’10