A note from the Director…
Former Clemson Service Alliance Faculty Fellow Ashley Fisk approached me late last summer with the idea of having the interns in the Pearce Center for Professional Communication create and design Clemson’s Service-Learning Annual Report this year. I loved the idea and agreed, and the interns started work on designing this publication in the fall of 2014. They spent the 2014-2015 academic year creating this publication that you are now reading. I have been incredibly impressed with their enthusiasm, their creativity, and their professionalism. It has truly been a rewarding experience for me to work with all of them on this project. When they presented me with their ideas for a new name for this publication, the one that immediately spoke to me was “Synergy”. “Synergy” is what this process of creating this publication together is about – and synergy is what service-learning is all about.
Our Clemson faculty who utilize service learning in the classroom understand the power of synergy. They intentionally design courses where students will be asked to engage not just with each other to solve a problem or address an issue but also with an “other” as part of this learning process. The “other” partner in this process could be faculty and students from another disciplinary area; clients or managers of community non-profits and organizations; a k-12 school and its teachers and students; business and industry professionals; or citizens in a foreign country. Their work in designing and implementing these classes is labor and time intensive and often comes with little professional recognition – but does give many of them the great personal satisfaction of knowing that they are making a difference in the world that extends beyond the doors of their classroom.
And it is the addition of the “other” to the learning equation that creates the transformational learning experience for all involved – an experience that seeks to set personal agendas and preconceived ideas aside in order to work together to find ways to effectively address some of the challenges we face locally and globally. At the heart of the experience that the faculty co-create with their students and the community is a belief in synergy – and a belief in its creative power to do great and noble things in the world we live in. So a VERY special thank you to Ashley and Lea Anna of the Pearce Center for Professional Communication and to the FABULOUS Pearce Center interns for allowing me the honor to participate in a synergistic experience with them this year — it has been a blast!!
And finally, a very special thank you to Clemson faculty, staff, students, and administration – and to the communities locally and globally who work with us — to create, support, and sustain our Clemson service-learning classes and programs. I hope all of you will enjoy reading the articles and watching videos on their work in 2014-2015.