On November 20, the rector, vice-rectors, and heads of instructional departments of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) discussed introducing service learning at the university. (Service learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service.)

Senior Vice-Rector Taras Dobko stated that service learning is a model for teaching and, at the same time, a method to implement the strategy “A university that serves,” and also a resource center for teachers and other educational institutions.

“With 11 bachelor’s programs, every year at the university level we hope to offer at least 33 quality courses with the service-learning method. This means that at least 20 teachers who are ready to work in this field need to be trained. And so they need to go through a teachers’ workshop which would allow them to introduce quality service-learning courses at UCU. We can also implement this methodology in partnership, inasmuch as we want UCU to become a resource center and spread the service-learning culture among teachers of other colleges or schools,” explained Dobko.

Yulia Kleban, a teacher at the UCU Applied Sciences Faculty, talked about the results of a working group that is striving to introduce service learning at UCU. The group has been working for over a year.

“Our working group,” said Kleban, “took online courses from CLAYSS, the Latin American Center of Service Learning. We learned there how to bring service learning to academic disciplines and combine them with projects. We implemented one pilot project, an asset-map of organizations which provide services for those who were involved in military actions and their families in Lviv and the region. We are ready not only to show how to work with this but how to adapt it to new conditions and carry out the assignment with students in a distance format. Our working group is now conducting meetings with specific bachelor’s programs that we’re interested in because they are ready to introduce the service-learning model. We’re looking closely at what these courses should be like and talking with the teachers. We understand that the teacher of each course will need resource support, which we are ready to provide,” said Kleban.

“It is very important,” said UCU Rector Fr. Dr. Bohdan Prach at the end of the meeting, “that we are striving so that our students, upon graduation from the university, will be mature people, and so we need to do much fruitful work, not only in offices but, above all, giving them an opportunity to go out and discover themselves in various situations through social projects.”

The meeting was part of the project “Service-learning month at UCU.”