Empowering students to contribute to their community while developing academic skills is the focus of a symposium at the University of Newcastle this week.
The University's Office of Corporate Development and Community Partnerships is bringing together education providers, government and community organisations for the inaugural Service-Learning Symposium in our region.
Service-learning is a teaching method that brings together students and community members to work on mutually beneficial projects that meet community needs and achieve curriculum outcomes.
Pro Vice-Chancellor of Corporate Development and Community Partnerships, Associate Professor Martin Fitzgerald, said service-learning had wide-ranging benefits for students and the community.
"Service-learning strengthens communities through partnerships that address real-world issues and helps develop engaged young leaders with an awareness of their social responsibility," Associate Professor Fitzgerald said.
"Students are encouraged to identify real community problems such as pollution in waterways and work with relevant organisations to develop solutions.
"Knowledge gained in the classroom is put into practice through students addressing issues of concern or relevance in the community.
"Far from being quick-fix solutions, each project looks beyond the needs of today, builds capacity in those involved and helps develop stronger communities."
Service-learning is already a popular teaching method across Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the United States where around half of schools have community-based programs in place.
The symposium aims to introduce and extend service-learning across the Hunter region and become a model for other regions across Australia.
The Service-Learning Symposium will be held at the University of Newcastle's Great Hall on Thursday 31 July from 9am to 4.30pm.
Details of the program are available for download here (PDF 64KB) and media are welcome.