April 2001

Now in its sixth year, the Bates Center for Service-Learning has come far in integrating service into the intellectual life of the College. More than half the student body has engaged in a service-learning project, while a third of the faculty has included a service component in their courses.

Service-learning is a partnership among students, faculty, and community agencies, where all parties serve, learn, and teach. Service-learning sharpens the sense of the "usefulness" of learning while at the same time reaffirming its importance on its own terms. Service-learning speaks to personal development and leadership qualities — in "others" we discover self.

We all need to find ways to bring together the learning of the classroom and the laboratory, the insights gained in extracurricular life, in the lessons of team sports and the daunting questions pursued in late-night conversations in dormitories. We need to find ways to bring these examples together in dynamic interaction. Service-learning can help integrate these parts into a larger more powerful whole and project it forward as an indelible part of an unfolding future.

So, come see us at 163 Wood Street. We would be very pleased to help you develop your own service-learning opportunity.

James W. Carignan
Dean of the College
Director, Center for Service-Learning

Service-Learning at Bates

The Center for Service-Learning, established in September 1995 at Bates, is dedicated to the proposition that liberal learning, personal growth, and moral development are enhanced through service to others. Students, faculty, and staff learn about themselves, the dynamics of the world in which they live, and those with whom they work when involved in community service. Not insignificantly, they also enhance the quality of community life by the tangible results they add through their service. These ideas are at the heart of the Center for Service-Learning's mission.

The Center is an umbrella organization committed to facilitating a wide variety of contacts with the larger community to the mutual benefit of all involved. In addition to traditional volunteerism, the Center is especially interested in promoting reflection and discussion on community service. It is this reflective quality, in fact, that distinguishes service-learning from traditional volunteerism. Both forms of community service are at home in the Center.

  • The Center's staff, working with the assistance of the volunteer coordinator, helps individuals and groups of students establish contacts for service of varying lengths of time with over sixty different groups and agencies in the Lewiston-Auburn area, as well as in national and international venues.

  • We arrange all the contacts and logistical details for faculty and students who wish to incorporate service-learning as an integral part of a course.

  • We develop and assist in the placement of students in internships and on-site research efforts during the academic year as well as in the summer.

  • The Center coordinates the community work-study program, which enables students who qualify for federal work-study funding to work during the academic year and summer in non-profit organizations. The Center also administers grants (Mulford and Crafts) to enable students to participate in service-learning projects during the summer and academic year. Deadlines for application are widely publicized on campus.

  • The Center is committed to working with the Lewiston-Auburn schools in implementing their vision for educational reform.

  • The Center has signed on to the Read America challenge and sponsors read-ins in the local schools, K-6.

  • The Center promotes and provides developmental programs for faculty and other groups interested in initiating service-learning projects.

  • The Center administers Kids Plus, a program designed to raise academic achievement and aspirations among the children in Longley School and the neighborhood in which the children live through quality service-learning projects and increased collaboration among residents and service providers.

A few basic principles guide service-learning at Bates at this juncture. It is voluntary except when required in a course. It is supported by the encouragement of reflective practice. It respects those being served as both learners and teachers. It guards against patronizing postures. It promotes genuine partnerships with the community. It values both "service" and "learning" as pedagogies that enhance the educational experience of Bates students. Access to the Center's programs is available to all members of the Bates community.

Service-learning is a mutual enterprise. Those who serve teach and learn; those being served teach and learn. All give and all receive. The words above the entrance to Chase Hall say, "They helped everyone and his neighbor." In one form or other that sentiment has been associated with Bates from its founding. It resonates well with the historic mission of this institution. The Center for Service-Learning is a vehicle dedicated to helping all members of the Bates community achieve this noble goal.

Examples of Bates Students Involved in Service-

  • A senior collaborates with an economics professor on a study of the economic benefits of greenways in the Lewiston/Auburn area.

  • A student creates a community gardening program involving the residents of a low-income housing project in Lewiston — developing into a context for nutritional instruction, community dinners and other forms of community building.

  • Students from a Short Term course on research methods create, administer, and interpret the results of a survey designed to assist community members who are involved in educational reform efforts in a local public school.

  • A group of students works with residents of a halfway house for homeless adolescents and have the opportunity to reflect as a group on the experience.

  • Under the guidance of an academic advisor, an English/women's studies major works as a court advocate for women served through the Abused Women's Advocacy Project of Lewiston/Auburn.

What Can the Center Offer a Student?

  • a place to support your efforts to integrate your academic work into the "real world";

  • help and support in developing service internships within local, intercultural, or international settings;

  • a place to reflect with others on the meaning of your community service;

  • an opportunity through service to others to develop and consider ideas about your plans after graduation.

I was attracted to the Bates Street Clinic my freshman year because it provides health care to low-income families or people without insurance. Beginning my sophomore year, Dr. Anne Brown instituted a new program called the Bates Street Evening Clinic. It was aimed at helping the Hispanic community in the area. Since I am a Spanish major, as well as pre-med, the clinic was an opportunity for me to help develop and become involved in a program that incorporates many of my interests, academically and socially.

Since the evening clinic is new, I helped begin an outreach program to inform the Spanish community of the low-cost health care. ... I am at the clinic every Wednesday evening. I translate between the patient and doctor when necessary. I have made pamphlets in both English and Spanish, and have recently been working with the clinic marketing department by helping establish relationships with the Spanish population.

Being able to work outside of Bates in the community has given me a chance to give something back to Lewiston and Auburn. My project has tied the two cities together, both figuratively and literally. The Great Falls of the Androscoggin is a fascinating place to visit, and by developing a park that will educate and inform we will bring these twin cities closer together. Providing something for these communities that will outlast my years here at Bates will be something that I, the school, and the cities will certainly be proud of.

What Does the Center Offer You as a Staff or Faculty 

  • help in developing service-learning opportunities locally or internationally;

  • assistance in creating a service-learning component for your course, arranging for contacts, and taking care of all logistical details for the community segment;

  • the opportunity to learn more about service-learning as a powerful teaching tool and the ways in which community service can be incorporated into your curriculum;

  • the opportunity to reflect on your own service within the community.

Service-learning ... certainly enlivened and deepened the meaning of my Civil Rights Movement Short Term course for me and the overwhelming majority of the students involved. I have been startled and pleased, over the last two years, to read a good number of evaluation reports in which students described their volunteer field work as perhaps the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of their college careers.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed teaching research methods through service-learning. Students were invested in their projects; their community collaborators were energized by the chance to reflect upon their practices; and I was delighted to work with so many motivated individuals.

What Does the Center Offer You as a Member of the 
Larger Community?

  • the opportunity to access the resources and assistance of an institution of higher education;

  • the opportunity to teach and assist students from the College;

  • the chance to participate in the development of a positive partnership between Bates and the larger community;

  • service which adds value to your project or agency.

Students working in my office produce results which I could not otherwise achieve.

As a result of our action research project with Bates, several stereotypes about our school have been seriously challenged. We can now work with a more realistic understanding of how we are perceived by parents.


163 Wood Street

Advisory Committee Members

Lee Abrahamsen, Biology
Raphael Adamek, '01
Stacey Berkowitz, '01
Noah Petro, '01
Alexis Rubin, '02
Christine Fenno, Director,
Abused Women's Advocacy Project
Patricia Finnegan, City Manager, Auburn
Douglas Hodgkin, Political Science
Geneva Kirk, '37, Retired Teacher/
Community Volunteer
Leon Levesque, School Superintendent, Lewiston
James Lysen, City Planner, Lewiston
Charles Morrison, Executive Director, Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce
Georgia Nigro, Psychology
Stacy Smith, Education
Carl Straub, Philosophy and Religion

Service-Learning Resource People

James W. Carignan, Center Director
Dean of the College
163 Wood Street

Peggy Rotundo, Center Associate Director
163 Wood Street

Sue Martin, Coordinator
Bates College/Longley School Project
161 Wood St.

Laura Biscoe, Volunteer Coordinator
CSA Office Suite
Chase Hall

Martha Deschaines, Secretary,
Center for Service-Learning
163 Wood Street

Sylvia Deschaine, Administrative Assistant to the dean
163 Wood Street

For more information, click here to get to the Service-Learning homepage

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Last modified: 5/3/2001 by tins