As part of Bucknell's Management 101 curriculum, students must complete a significant service project that meets a real-life need. Professor Tammy Hiller, management, who team-teaches the course and co-authored the Management 101 textbook, believes service projects are a meaningful way to teach students how to organize and manage – skills they will need for jobs in any organization. "Planning and executing real projects, with real impact on real people, teaches students how complex it is to create sustainable value for all of an organization's stakeholders.
"Everyone will spend most of their careers working with other people," Hiller says. "Students need to learn how to learn from their own experiences and understand what others, both inside and outside of the organization, feel is of value. They learn leadership and decision-making skills, along with how a common purpose can bring people together."
For instance, Hiller's students recently helped create the Children's Play Garden for the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority in Lewisburg. The garden encourages children to engage with nature in a way that promotes creativity and provides an alternative to electronic devices. Another student group spearheaded a campus-wide suicide-awareness campaign and raised money for the Counseling and Student Development Center for future awareness events.
The projects benefit communities and allow Hiller to study how her students learn, become motivated and perform. Throughout the experience, students stop and reflect, either through small-group story-telling sessions or writing. "My scholarship is about teaching and learning. It focuses on the impact of experiential, collaborative and service-learning methods," Hiller says. "I am trying to understand how using those pedagogies engages students to become life-long learners."
Hiller's service-learning courses stretch around the globe; recently, she co-directed the Bucknell in Cape Town program. Eighteen students traveled to South Africa to take her course, which included internships with social enterprises and community-based organizations. They studied efforts to overcome the legacy of apartheid through social entrepreneurship, social business and community development, with particular attention paid to gender and sexuality-based inequalities and human rights abuses. That prompted a new foundation seminar class called Nurturing Justice in South Africa, which Hiller hopes will allow students to learn meaningfully about the complexities and challenges of that beautiful country without having to travel halfway around the world.
"These projects are hands-on learning in the moment," she says. "We form a learning partnership with our students not to dictate who they are or what their values should be, but to help them discover their own values, goals and passions."
Posted Sept. 15, 2014