Education & Service-Learning
With the theme line ‘education and service-learning’, UCSIA follows the Jesuit tradition in emphasizing the importance of education. Therefore, the Flemish education field is a prominent target audience for UCSIA’s activities. Based on the train the trainer principle, UCSIA supports teachers and staff in the educational field by offering teaching materials, formation, study days, lectures, etc. on the core topics of UCSIA’s expertise:
- Religion, culture and society
- Ethics and economy
- Europe and solidarity
- Jesuit heritage
Another core mission of UCSIA is the promotion of service-learning as a pedagogy in Flemish (higher) education. Service-learning (SL) is an innovative teaching practice that connects theoretical knowledge to social engagement. A student gets involved in a practice experience in a community organization, and through reflection on this experience he or she learns to link theory and practice.
Service-learning enhances students’ learning on an academic, personal and societal level. The experiential component helps students to stay motivated and it stimulates critical thinking and social engagement. Unlike internships, which focus on student learning, service-learning seeks a reciprocal relationship between the student and the organization, in which the quality of the service and the added value for the community organization and its target group are as important as the students’ learning. Service-learning starts from the actual needs of the target group with students learning how they can meet these needs and how they can actively involve the target group in finding solutions. Through reflection, students learn to connect their experiences with specific academic content and their own lives. This way, service-learning stimulates the personal growth of students and encourages them to become responsible and engaged citizens.
UCSIA is committed to the recognition and promotion of service-learning as a meaningful and innovative educational practice in Flemish higher education. To accomplish this commitment, UCSIA coordinates the Flemish Network for Service-Learning in Higher Education, that consists of more than fifteen Flemish higher education institutions joining forces to strive to embed service-learning within the Flemish higher education system. Through the exchange of research and good practices, the network draws the attention of students, higher education staff and policy makers to this new educational perspective and its added value for Flanders.
At the international level, UCSIA appears as a bridge builder for the service-learning pedagogy. UCSIA was involved in the development of a European vision on service-learning by organizing of the 2nd European Conference on Service-Learning in Higher Education. During this conference, the European Association on Service-Learning in Higher Education was founded.
UCSIA is coordinator of the Erasmus+ project Service-Learning as a pedagogy to promote Inclusion, Diversity and Digital Empowerment (SLIDE, 2022-2024) and partner in the Erasmus+ project Connecting student mobility to community engagement: the UNICORN (UNIversity-COmmunity-leaRNing) model for international service-learning in higher education (UNICORN, 2019-2022).
SLIDE aims to intertwine the Service-Learning (SL) pedagogy with Digital Empowerment (DE) to promote Inclusion (I) and diversity. The project brings together students and academics from a wide range of European higher education institutions to draw on existing practices, share knowledge and develop best practices in and with the community where all become problem solvers, and partners.
The Erasmus+ project UNICORN (2019 – 2022) aims at designing and testing a new mobility scheme for higher education students that combines international mobility with a service-learning experience. Students experiencing an Erasmus mobility year in one of the UNICORN universities, get the opportunity to follow a service-learning course at one of the participating community organizations.
The network gathers professionals and expertise on service-learning. This is an educational approach that aims to integrate human and community needs into a course. The student learns theories in the classroom and at the same time volunteers with an agency.
Islamic Religious Education in EuropeHow do European countries organize the education of Islam? Scholars from different academic backgrounds and from different European contexts shared their insights at the conference ‘Education of Islam – Islam in Education in Europe’ in Antwerp.
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