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Grant to Develop Community-Based Learning Courses

December 15, 2010 –The Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service (CSJ) has received a one-year, $125,000 Learn and Serve America grant to help expand the university’s popular community-based learning programs.

The grant, awarded by the District of Columbia Commission on Service and Learning, will provide resources to help support and develop courses that combine classroom learning with community service opportunities at local partner organizations.

“This grant recognizes the strengths of our community-based learning program, and it provides us with new opportunities to expand our resources for faculty and students who wish to engage in this work,” said CSJ executive director Kathleen Maas Weigert.

As one of 18 universities nationwide to receive a Learn and Serve America grant this year, Georgetown will use the funding to support two courses in the McDonough School of Business and one sociology course in Georgetown College.

“My students will get hands-on, real world experience in creating new products and services that will generate revenue for a nonprofit community development corporation,” said management professor Bob Bies, who will be teaching one of the courses. “They will see how their business school skills can make a difference in the community.”

Community-based learning has become an important component of Georgetown’s approach to education. For nearly a decade, CSJ has coordinated the university’s efforts to foster academic coursework that engages students in the greater community.

“This grant is a great opportunity for Georgetown faculty, students and their community partners because the money supports community-defined needs,” said Jane Kirchner, CSJ’s community-based learning coordinator. “Students provide a service that is valuable and organizations provide a learning opportunity that is invaluable.”

Under the Learn and Serve America grant, CSJ will also receive additional resources to develop training and workshops that will help Georgetown faculty redesign courses into more community-based ones. The grant, funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service, also provides an opportunity for CSJ to lend its expertise to the University of the District of Columbia -- Washington’s only public university -- as UDC develops its own academic office for community-based learning.

Additionally, CSJ will facilitate collaboration between the business faculty at The George Washington University and the McDonough School of Business faculty. Kirchner will join CSJ research director Deanna Cooke to lead the projects funded by the grant.

“Deanna Cooke and Jane Kirchner did a great deal of work to help us to obtain this award, and I am delighted that they will be leading this work to strengthen our efforts,” said Maas Weigert.

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