‘Connecting student mobility to community engagement – a UNICORN model for international service-learning in higher education’

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 opportunity to engage in an international service-learning experience offers higher education students a new, unprecedented learning opportunity that will help them to develop the so-called “civic and democratic competences”: civic mindedness, co-operation skills, intercultural skills, openness to cultural otherness, flexibility and adaptability, knowledge and critical understanding of the self and of others, etc. These competences, though not strictly discipline-related, are ever more necessary to deal with the current societal challenges and specifically to act as an active citizen and a competent professional in today’s complex and diverse societies.

The objectives of the UNICORN project are to:

    • Set up a new international mobility scheme for higher education students integrating the service-learning approach;
    • Enhance the third mission and civic engagement of European higher education institutions;
    • Reinforce the collaboration between universities and community for the benefit of both students and of the local/global communities;
    • Encourage the professional development of academics and contribute to foster the adoption of more effective, innovative teaching methods based on experiential/practical/work-based learning
    • Contribute to further encourage international mobility in higher education (especially in those disciplines in which it is not yet properly widespread/developed).

The UNICORN project is coordinated by the University of Bologna. The project consortium consists of eleven partners: five universities with five corresponding community partners and the University of Pretoria, representing a country were the service-learning methodology is widely adopted since many years. UCSIA is involved in the UNICORN project as community partner linked to the University of Antwerp.


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