Establishing Common Ground: Using Humanities Courses to Teach Students the Value of Difference

By:
Dr. Randall E. Osborne,
Dr. Oren Renick,
Ms Michelle L. Bohn
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For three years, Texas State University-San Marcos has been building a service-learning team initiative with the express goals of: (1) assisting students in expanding their perceptions of "community", (2) helping students to recognize and value the importance of difference, (3) aiding students in expanding their perceptions of similarities between themselves and others, and (4) guiding students to a firmer understanding of the relationships between their core curriculum (comprised mainly of Humanities courses) and their lifelong learning goals.

Team members include staff, faculty, students and community members. Significant service-learning components have been incorporated into multiple layers of the humanities requirements at our university. Two of these experiences will be discussed in this paper. They are: (1) the University Seminar – a required first-year integration to college course) and (2) first-year English.

Currently, we are conducting research on the impact of service-learning experiences on student self-perceptions and retention across semesters from the University Seminar course. As an example, data shows that students experiencing service-learning in the University Seminar course become significantly more "other" focused in their self-descriptions than US students not experiencing service-learning. This suggests that service-learning experiences in humanities courses can help us accomplish our goal of assisting students in expanding their perceptions of "community" – becoming more externally focused and less internally focused.

Examples of how service-learning has been used in Humanities courses to assist students in recognizing and valuing differences, and in understanding the relationships between humanities courses and lifelong learning will be provided.


Keywords: Service-learning, Humanities and valuing difference, Community
Stream: Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Randall E. Osborne

Department Chair, Psychology College of Liberal Arts, Texas State University-San Marcos
USA


Dr. Oren Renick

Department Chair, Health Administration College of Health Professions, Texas State University-San Marcos
USA


Ms Michelle L. Bohn

Texas State University-San Marcos
USA


Ref: H05P0195