Penn's Second 'Hub': A Center for Community Service Learning
A new "hub" program, the Community Service Learning Center,
for students, faculty and staff interested in community service, is being
established this spring, to be housed in the building formerly occupied
by Public Safety, at 3914 Locust Walk. The offices for the University's
Program for Student-Community Involvement (PSCI), now in Houston Hall,
will form the basis of the new Center.
The CSLC is the second 21st Century Project initiative to take the "hub"
form pioneered by Kelly Writers House nearby--a nonresidential house that
draws on common interests in learning and activity. Both hubs are in buildings
that were originally private homes--Kelly at the former Chaplain's House,
and CSLC in what was once the Rectory of St. Mary's Church.
University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin, Interim Provost Michael
L. Wachter and Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum
jointly announced the new Center last week. "Penn's founder, Benjamin
Franklin, said service should be 'the great aim and end of all learning'--that
the true purpose of education was to serve society," said President
Rodin. "This weekend marked the commemoration of Franklin's birthday.
I think he would have considered this initiative the perfect reason to
Peter Conn, the Andrea Mitchell Professor of English, will serve as
faculty advisor for the Center.
As part of its activities, the Center will work to increase the number
of student, faculty, and staff volunteers engaged in mentoring, school-to-work,
and literacy programs; house academic conferences and workshops; encourage
the development of academically-based community service groups; and, working
with Penn's Career Planning and Placement Service, will publicize summer,
internship, and post-graduate public service opportunities.
In line with the Agenda
for Excellence and 21st Century Project for the Undergraduate Experience,
the Center is intended to help increase collaboration among existing University
and student service organizations including cultural and service groups,
fraternities and sororities, and residentially-based programs. It also
expects to work to strengthen the linkages between academically-based community
service programs and traditional volunteer efforts in West Philadelphia
and throughout Philadelphia.
"The Community Service hub provides another terrific opportunity
for student-led, faculty-guided programs to shape the 21st Century at Penn,"
said Interim Provost Wachter. "Along with the Kelly Writers House
and EFFECT, Penn is quickly demonstrating it is a place where the undergraduate
experience is driven by students, faculty and staff who work together on
common interests and goals both inside and outside of the classroom."
The Center's design came from a suggestion put forward last year by
the 21st Century Undergraduate Advisory Board, a group of students representing
different service groups, academically-based public service, and student
government. "I'm excited about the opportunities there will be for
informal meetings which will spawn collaborative efforts among groups,"
said Hillary Aisenstein, one of the students involved. "I think this
is a great chance to strengthen Penn's community service efforts and bring
students together who share the same commitment and interests."
Plans for the center include office space for student-led community
service groups, classroom space for academically-based community service
classes, and meeting and tutoring space for related activities. There also
will be a resource and lending library for use by student volunteers and
peer educators as well as university and community members.
Already a nationally recognized leader in community involvement and
academically-based public service, Penn provides some 50 academically-based
community service courses and more than 2,000 students participate in a
wide variety of service activities ranging from tutoring and mentoring
to creating awareness about the environment and human rights.