Why Community-Based Learning?
When a community-based learning component is added to the classroom experience, students begin to identify, and apply, theoretical course content on a deeper, more direct hands-on level of academic and social understanding. With intentional focus on learning, CBL opportunities create a three-fold benefit, engaged teaching, engaged students and an engaged public.
In York, this can look like anything from students working directly with city youth in programs to help them grow their confidence, to an engineering project set on a better method of travel downtown on a borrowed bike system.
When working with community partners, theory becomes integrated with practice and a new perspective is formed outside of the classroom. Relationships are built and the defining lines between Colleges and their local communities start to diminish. Students enter the community as representatives of York College understanding the importance of professionalism, social and cultural awareness, and skills for competently and effectively interacting with communities beyond campus.
Community-based learning creates exposure to class content by examining the multitude of social problems facing many contemporary American towns and cities. Direct engagement with community members living and functioning in the midst of current social issues offers unique and expanded learning opportunities for students. Through this type of engagement, students, local agencies, and stakeholders can work together to explore and address the everyday challenges that face communities.
Resources are combined in a fitting way and can include labor, critical thinking, academic research and experience. Ideas that are ignited between college students and the local public can help ease financial burdens from a community with exhausted, or limited budgets. Community-Based Learning projects help groups of people find commonalities that enrich neighborhoods. Studies are beginning to show the correlation between happiness and successful communities when multiple levels of support and open communication are factored in.
For students, the experience is one that allows them, sometimes for the first times in their lives, to sense civic responsibility. It is not just an opportunity for them to give their time and ideas, but also to gain self-actualization and self-worth. For faculty, it is an opportunity to see the young adults in their charge take on the implications behind the words of a text. For the community, it is a chance to see that York College is a member of the York community.