CHADRON – This summer, students can earn credit in a summer course focused on service learning. Dr. Matt Evertson, who teaches Learning to Serve scheduled to begin June 8, said he is encouraging students who enroll to pursue projects related to the current health crisis.
“Don’t feel helpless by Covid-19, work to beat it,” Evertson said.
Evertson said he will provide alternatives for students not interested in the topic.
A major requirement of the course is for each student to write a formal proposal including research into a problem in the community, a case about the seriousness of the problem, and a plan to address the issue through a service project.
To accomplish an equivalent amount of work to the semester-based course, students taking the eight-week format should plan to spend an average of 16 to 18 hours per week on the course. Evertson said the course is flexible.
“Students check in twice a week and complete the posted activities on their own, at their own pace. Students can predictably arrange their summer schedules around this course. Enrollment is typically small, so they will have more one-on-one help from me,” Evertson said. “Students can work individually or collaborate on projects that will make a big impact on their communities. They truly can learn while serving.”
Although it is an introductory level course, Evertson admits the goals are ambitious.
“Hopefully my goals are realistic. The important element is students are learning by doing, reflecting on what they have learned in the process of addressing important community issues, and trying to help do something about them,” he said. “Students propose these projects with a lot of hope and ambition, and then they encounter the realities of working with others, arranging schedules, and doing the hard work of service.”
Tracking and writing about what happens between their proposals and the actual projects is where Evertson said the core of inquiry-based learning happens.
“Failure is actually a good thing, as it allows them to write about and learn from the experiences and what they might do differently in the future,” he said.
Evertson is excited about the texts for the course, “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope,” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and “Life in Crisis: The Ethical Journey of Doctors Without Borders” by Peter Redfield.
The new version of “Tightrope” focuses on rural America and America. The previous edition had a global perspective.
“It has a lot of inspiration stories and advice and reporting on the more rural and remote parts of the country and what folks are doing to try and overcome poverty, job loss, drug addiction, and more,” Evertson said.
“Life in Crisis” addresses some elements of health-crisis management worldwide. Evertson chose this text when deciding to pivot towards the coronavirus pandemic.
“The reading will show students how dedicated professionals and volunteers have had major success in addressing all sorts of medical crises while also illustrating the challenges that must be overcome,” Evertson said.
Examples of previous FYI 169AB projects
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