Davis Grant To Establish Office of Community-Based Learning
December 5, 2008

Joseph Favazza
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the FacultyJoseph Favazza

Community-based learning has been blossoming at Stonehill over the last several years as more and more faculty seek to connect students' learning in the classroom to real world experience. With a recently awarded grant, the College will enhance those efforts by establishing a formal community-based learning program.

The $238,959 grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation established in 1985 by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis' retirement as chairman of Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.

The foundation is an expression of the couple's shared support and value for higher education. It has awarded Stonehill four grants since 1992 totaling $662,988.

Dispersed over a three-year period, this new grant will be used to launch an Office of Community-Based Learning in the Center for Teaching and Learning. The Office will support Stonehill's commitment to incorporating pedagogically meaningful service experiences into its curriculum.

The formal establishment of an Office of CBL along with the addition of a full-time Director of CBL, will provide Stonehill the infrastructure necessary to support the assessment and enhancement of community-based learning.

Two Stonehill faculty members, who are experts in the field, took the lead on the project. Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the Faculty Joseph Favazza, and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Stacy Grooters, believe the program will help advance Stonehill's mission which encourages "a lifelong desire for self-discovery and commitment to service that will lead to truly purposeful and rewarding lives."

Currently, the College offers nearly 20 courses that incorporate community-based learning as dozens of students take part in various community service activities each week.

"Like many facets of life, higher education pedagogical tools are value laden. Service-learning is not a value-free teaching philosophy. It stems from a desire to enhance a student's learning while simultaneously providing needed resources for community members," says Associate Professor of Communications Monique Myers.

"It is a symbiotic relationship in which, ideally, everyone gains. Students gain experiential knowledge, they are able to critically engage course material and apply it to everyday life, they learn more about the multicultural world of which they are a part and they can relate to the context of contemporary social issues firsthand," adds Myers, who introduced community-based learning into her Communications Theory course three years ago.

Students in the course apply the communications theories they learn in the classroom by spending 18-20 hours during the semester engaging in and observing human communication with clients, volunteers and staff at community partner sites.

The Office of CBL will bring a renewed commitment to enhancing faculty members' role in designing courses like Myers' Communications Theory course and strengthening the dialogue among faculty, students and community partners.

"Community-based learning is a powerful pedagogy that allows faculty and students to make connections, to link what they're reading and reflecting upon in class with the community placement. We integrate service into our courses because it advances student learning," says Favazza.

For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.

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