SERVE, a signature program of VT Engage, is focused on creating an environment for students that fosters personal and civic growth. While studying community development and social change theory, SERVE students are also engaged in a variety of service experiences, including group service projects. Given both theoretical context and shared engagement experiences as a common ground, students discuss and reflect during class, online, and through written reflections in an attempt to blur lines between the academic, social, and civic realms.
There are two required courses that all SERVE students must take:
SPIA 1024 (Fall): Community Service Learning (3 hrs, 3 credits): An introduction to community engagement with an emphasis on “active citizenship”. This course covers concepts of community, service and volunteerism, servant leadership, and social change. (CLE Area 2)
SPIA 2024 (Spring): Community Systems Thinking (3 hrs, 3 credits) An exploration of local and global community systems and their relevance to ethical, sustainable problem solving and decision making. Students collaborate with community partners to create a viable program or product. (CLE Area 3 and Area 7)
What to Expect
Students in this community live in Pritchard Hall and take a course together in the Fall and Spring semesters. The Fall course focuses on leadership (specifically servant leadership) motivations for and criticisms of volunteerism, understanding local historical/social/economic context and its impact on community issues and “wicked problems”. The Spring course takes an inclusive, justice-focused approach to community engagement and community-identified need.
Students interested in continuing in the program beyond the first-year community have the opportunity to serve in leadership roles within SERVE and pursue the associated minor. Leadership opportunities include mentoring first-year SERVE students, facilitating courses, and leading service immersion experiences during academic breaks.