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Service-learning at JMU actually began as a program in the social work department! This demonstrates the strong commitment that social work as a profession has had for service and the role of active citizens in resolving the challenging social problems in our society. Service-learning is a method of teaching where students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized community service.

Beginning with our very first course, Introduction to Social Work, students spend a minimum of twenty hours at local agencies, learning about the challenges faced by community members. Students choose from agencies including the Gus Bus/Reading Road Show, Second Home, Boys and Girls Club, Generations Crossing, Overcoming Barriers, Shenandoah Valley Migrant Education, Mercy House, Sunnyside and many more. Upper level classes require collaborative projects with agencies that have contributed to real change – a recent example is data collected by social work students was utilized in making decisions around sexual education in schools. Students had the opportunity to present their findings about parental support to the local school board!

In addition to service-learning courses in the BSW curriculum, social work students are encouraged to participate in the wonderful array of Alternative Break programs which allow students to participate in student-led service breaks to locations in the US and abroad. Paired with a faculty/staff learning partner, groups of 12 students plan and implement service projects that make meaningful contributions to the community while building leadership and enhancing personal growth for the students. Many social work students participate and serve as student leaders of these incredible experiences. For more information on JMU’s Alternative Break program, please visit their website.

Examples of service-learning in social work courses:

JMU Students Put Study Into Practice at Rural Health Clinics

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