Seven Faculty/Staff Members Receive Awards to Develop Community Based Learning Courses

Belmont, CA, April 24, 2007 — Seven Notre Dame de Namur faculty and staff members have been awarded mini-grants to develop courses in cooperation with community partners. The courses will be designed to allow NDNU students to apply the skills and knowledge they are acquiring in the classroom to deal with community needs identified by the local agencies.

Funding for the projects came from several sources. The Danford Foundation in Foster City gave $5,000, which was matched by the University. California Campus Compact and Learn and Serve America awarded a development grant for $4,000.

The projects include teaching science to elementary school children, to applying liberation theology to work with marginalized persons.

“Experiential learning is a really beneficial form of learning for many students and can help them understand academic content in a deeper way. It can be more engaging for students,” Kathryn Racine-Jones, Director of the Center of Spirituality and Change. “The involvement of faculty to be trained in the type pedagogy can really help shift an institution.”

Isabelle Haithcox, Natural Sciences and Liberal Studies department, is developing a new course called “Science in Action,” which is set up for NDNU students to develop and teach science experiments to local elementary school students.  The elementary students’ science curriculum will be enhanced, while NDNU students will learn how to develop experiments and age-appropriate science curricula.

Jackie Berger, English department, will be giving her master’s students an opportunity to refine their craft of teaching literature through a partnership with county jails, where NDNU’s Master of Arts in English students will learn pedagogy and have contact with a diverse student population.  “The people who are incarcerated, hungry for books and discussion that inspire will have an opportunity to take a literature class in the under-funded jail system,” said Berger.

Marianne Delaporte, Religious Studies Department, will be integrating community-based learning into her “Theologies of Liberation” course. “Since liberation theology is theology being done from the base up it is important for students to become theologians themselves, through their work in and out of the classroom,” said Delaporte, who will be teaching this course next spring.  “Developing relationships with those who are marginalized, poor, or oppressed, will enable the NDNU students to fully grasp and explore the concept of liberation theology.”