Summer 2015 l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e - 9 impact others with their work. We want to develop the mindset of being socially conscious citizens. A service project may not be directly connected to their majors, but it is connected to their education.” Linfield Change Corps Some 805 Linfield students took part in community projects last year, completing more than 47,000 hours of service. In order to reach as many Linfield students as possible, Tonn oversees Change Corps, a nine-member student leadership team. They educate their peers about service-learning and active citizenship by coordinating service events and Alternative Spring Break programs focused on poverty, youth and the environment. Leaders are trained in communication, volunteer management, organization and social justice issues. In turn, they train their peers. “Our Change Corps leaders empower other students to participate in leadership and service,” Tonn said. “Ultimately we hope students who take part in these programs become leaders in their own lives.” Beyond helping others, volunteers hone essential career skills in time management, communication, professionalism, multicultural competencies and other areas, Tonn said. For example, Alyssa Kaplan ’17 gained experience in planning large scale events while organizing Make a Difference Day, one of four days of service she coordinates. “Change Corps gave me the opportunity to learn those skills – organization, being prepared and flexible when things don’t go according to plan,” she said. Sara Gomez ’17, who worked on issues of sustainability and led an Alternative Spring Break project in Alaska, has honed her abilities in budgets and leading meetings. “We are passionate about the specific areas in which we’re working, and that passion is driving us as we learn and explore,” she said. “Often, students look ahead to ‘after I graduate, I’ll be able to make a change.’ But we’re doing that now.” Developing habits, good citizens Linfield has long had a focus on experiential education. Using the community as a laboratory, students can apply knowledge they’re gaining academically to an issue in the community. Beyond that, experiential education is useful in developing habits around civic engagement, according to Susan Hopp, vice president of student services and dean of students. “We want to predispose students to get involved in their communities and in public life,” she said. “Part of that is understanding the issues and being an informed voter. No matter what you choose in terms of a personal political belief, be informed, understand what you believe, and act on it so you’re engaged and part of the system.” Service learning concepts are embedded in classes across the Linfield curriculum. For example, mathematical thinking can be used to better understand fairness and voting systems, according to Chuck Dunn, professor of mathematics, who teaches Intro to Voting Theory. “I want students to understand that math can be used to promote social good or better social understanding,” said Dunn. He will spend part of his upcoming fall sabbatical expanding the class to include service learning principles and hopes to have students work with community groups to learn more about decision making processes. “No matter what we study, particularly at a school with a liberal arts core, there is a way to engage in issues that are relevant to our community,” he added. “The thinking skills that are developed in mathematics can help focus and frame many real-world problems. While we may not necessarily find the perfect solution, we can at least help to better understand the situation.” Linfield faculty have involved students in dozens of community-based learning projects over the years. Ty Marshall, Brenda DeVore Marshall and six of their colleagues in theatre and communication arts included 74 students in a multi-year project documenting the history of the Pacific City dory fleet. Janet Peterson, health and human performance, and students educated a Bahamian community on Type 2 diabetes during a January Term class to the Bahamas. Rob Gardner, sociology, led students in conducting a homeless count in the McMinnville area; Nancy Broshot, environmental science, maps the urban forest with help from her students; Jeff McNamee, health and human performance, and students lead a weekly physical activity session for local home-schooled children. And these projects are only a sampling. Community partners Partnerships with institutions such as Linfield are crucial to local organizations, according to Elaine (Green) Burke ’99, director of community engagement for A Family Place relief nursery, part of Lutheran Community Services. This year, Burke worked with Lizette Becerra ’18, an intern through the First Federal program. “We’re trying to serve as many people as we can, so working with interns and partnering with organizations that have expertise in other areas is critical,” said Burke, who juggles a wide range of responsibilities to support at-risk families in Yamhill County. “We can’t do everything we want and partnerships allow us to do more.” As a Linfield student, Burke was involved in Linfield Activities Board and yearbook, and found her niche in community engagement after taking part in Alternative Spring Break projects in Bend and in New Orleans, La., following Hurricane Katrina. “In New Orleans, I saw firsthand that volunteers and groups can From left, Olivia Marovich ’15, Savannah Hurst ’18 and Jacqueline Hurst ’17 worked with other Linfield students on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska during Alternative Spring Break in March. They learned about environment and sustainability issues affecting Alaska and beyond, specifically working to clear the undergrowth in the campsite area at Eagle’s Nest Campground in the Thorne Bay Ranger District.
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