Since 1989 the Meelia Center has connected classroom and community. Every semester over 250 students in dozens of courses across the disciplines apply class concepts through their community engagement. Sometimes an optional assignment, and sometimes built into the fabric of the course for all students, community engaged learning can deepen understanding of course material and build student skills and confidence. It also generates significant positive community impact.
Models of Community Engaged Learning
There are 3 types of Community Engaged Learning within the Meelia Center that offer a wide range of learning opportunities and ways to engage with the Manchester community.
With community based engaged-learning the placement sites available to students are determined by the course goals defined by the faculty member. Students who choose the community based engaged-learning option are provided with an orientation, on-going support, and reflection opportunities. If you are an education, nursing, fine arts or social work major you will take a number of required community based engaged-learning courses which lay a foundation for later practicum experiences.
Class-based engaged learning allows the entire class to tackle a project that is defined with community. For example, Fine Arts classes invite non-profit agencies to present their design needs to an entire class, and then over the course of the semester the class generates art for their community client. The community partner gets dozens of creative images to choose from, and the students get experience working for a client, feedback on their drafts and final products, and opportunity to present their work.
The newest form of community engaged learning was developed by Meelia to appeal to faculty and students whose primary interests involve research. The Research in Support of Community strategy (RSC) creates a community impact for student research efforts.
As with all community engaged learning, the process begins with course goals defined by faculty and sites to match them. Here the service involves student research into questions defined by the community. Directors may request a review of the current literature on issues the agency is struggling with, information about successful local and national programs, or analysis of agency data.
RSC students are supported by Meelia student staff and the college’s Geisel Library research team. There is a research contract with the community that defines the question, how the results will be shared over the course of the semester, and the nature of the final product and presentation.
The Meelia Center has more than 50 sites from which to choose with engagement options to accommodate all levels of commitment, interest, and educational purposes.
Our sites serve a variety of populations and provide unique opportunities focused on early childhood, girl empowerment, after-school enrichment, elder care, hospice care, special needs interactions of all ages and levels, disadvantaged youth associations, people in crisis, and advocacy for new ideas.
Weekly student volunteers go out with at least one other person, expanding student networks on campus, for two or more hours each week for the entire semester. Yearlong commitments are encouraged and supported. Committed student volunteers can join with agency staff and clients and eventually run their own activities or workshops onsite. The Meelia Center provides support and materials as needed to encourage all student involvement. Often, these weekly opportunities invite students to take on leadership roles at the site. Many of the Center's strongest community connections were developed by student leaders who forged new relationships with the community.
If you are interested in volunteering and making a difference within our community, please reach out to the student coordinator on the site list, stop by the Meelia Center, or email email@example.com.