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WGSS 650: Service Learning in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies 

What Is Service Learning?

Service Learning allows students to apply theories and information gained from their courses in community work settings. It should not duplicate any other regularly available course. It should include both an academic and a service component. Students do not get paid for providing this service to the community.

How Does this Class Work?

WGSS 650 is offered as an independent study. That means students can not just sign up for this class and show up on the first day with instructions for the rest of the semester. Instead, students make individual arrangements that best fit their service and learning goals. 

What Should I Expect? 

Before the Semester Starts

Before the semester starts, the student should identify an agency at which to work. You might already be volunteering at the agency. If not, you might be able to identify opportunities for volunteering at the following sources:

Next you need to identify two supervisors: an agency supervisor (who will supervise and evaluate your work at the agency) and a WGSS faculty supervisor (who will supervise the academic portion of your work and assign a grade). A list of WGSS faculty members and their areas of interest is available here. The ideal faculty supervisor will be one who shares expertise on the area you're working on and already knows you from a previous class on that topic. For example, you may have completed WGSS 563: Gender, Sexuality, and the Law before beginning service learning work with a legal aid clinic for changing gender markers. 

Once you have identified your team, you will work together to establish expectations for your work over the next semester. The agency supervisor should write a brief statement outlining your responsibilities at the agency. The faculty supervisor should receive a copy of this statement. You and the faculty supervisor then write and sign a contract specifying what you will do at the agency, what academic work you will do (reading materials and written work relevant to your service), how often you and the faculty supervisor will meet during the semester, and how you will be graded.

During the Semester

You would provide service to the agency, meet with the faculty supervisor, and do the academic work specified in the contract. 

Generally, students should expect to work approximately 9 hours a week for a 3 credit hour course (consisting of 13 weeks/semester). This means that students are expected to work at an agency 117 hours/semester (9 hrs/wk x 13 wks) and conduct academic work for an additional 39 hours (3 hrs/wk x 13 wks).

At the End of the Semester

You ask the agency supervisor to send a letter or email to the faculty supervisor summarizing and evaluating your work.

You turn in all academic work specified in the contract.

The faculty supervisor then assigns a grade.

Where Can I Find Help? 

Contact the WGSS Director of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Stacey Vanderhurst, for help with this process. 


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