Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Description of the Project

The Project

The ‘Europe Engage - Developing a Culture of Civic Engagement through Service-Learning within Higher Education in Europe ’ seeks to embed the concept and practice of the civic university through Service-Learning (S-L) and student engagement with community. The overall aim of ‘Europe Engage’ will be to promote Service-Learning as a pedagogical approach that embeds and develops civic engagement within higher education, students, staff and the wider community.

The establishment of service-learning and regional networks can ensure the development of best practice and can enable the building of the ‘community’ into the higher education curriculum resulting in significant benefits to the student, academic, university, community and nation.

‘Europe Engage’ seeks to embed the idea of the civic university through service-learning and the growth of service-learning as a pedagogical approach within the participating universities. This dovetails with the ‘Modernisation of European Higher Education’ strategic priority through the Bologna Process and Declaration (1999) which states that “A Europe of knowledge is now widely recognized as an irreplaceable factor for social and human growth and as an indispensable component to consolidate and enrich the European citizenship, capable of giving its citizens the necessary competences to face the challenges of the new millennium, together with an awareness of shared values and belonging to a common social and cultural space.

‘Europe Engage’ seeks to enact this through the adopting and mainstreaming of service-learning as a key way to connect students and universities to the wider society so as to maintain and develop democracy and healthy levels of social capital within a European context.

S-L is a pedagogical approach that ‘promotes student attainment of knowledge, values, skills and attitudes associates with civic engagement through a structured academic experience within the community. It aims to bring reciprocal benefits to both the student and the community partner, and the sharing of knowledge across community-university boundaries.’ (McIlrath, 2012, p. 139). It connects academic learning to community service through partnership, reciprocity, reflection and social contact. The values of trust, mutuality, co-creation, inter-dependence and mutuality are central to community-university service learning partnership.