Service Learning Program


What is Service Learning?

Basically, a Service Learning course enables you to earn course credit at PUC by performing volunteer work in the community and completing course work related to your service. Each week, you’ll do work for a community not-for-profit agency-a hospital, a shelter, an arts organization, for example-and you’ll write reflection exercises that encourage you to think about how the things you’re learning in your other courses apply to the work you’re doing in the field. Sound interesting? Read on…

How is Service Learning different from an internship?

In a typical internship, you perform work related to your specific career interests, and you earn credit just by completing a certain number of hours of work. In the Service Learning program, the work you perform must have a meaningful and positive impact on the community, and it must enable you to use skills and knowledge you’ve acquired in your other coursework at PUC. The reflection exercises you will write as part of your Service Learning course will give you a chance to think about how your service experience applies to your classroom learning, and vice versa. Credit in Service Learning courses is earned not by working but by learning.

Do I need to declare a major in order to take Service Learning courses?

Not necessarily. However, it is essential that you be able to relate your service experience to coursework in a specific field of study, such as biology, sociology, criminal justice. Your Service Learning instructor will help you determine the most appropriate way to do this based on the service work you’re interested in and based on your current and previous coursework. In most cases, you must have a declared major in order to complete 300- and 400-level Service Learning courses.

What Service Learning courses can I take at PUC?

Purdue Calumet has approved Service Learning courses, designated SERV, as 1, 2, 3 and 4 credit hours at each of the 100, 200, 300 and 400 levels. Some courses are repeatable for credit. This means that there are course options available for you no matter what level of work you’re performing and no matter what amount of time you have to give. If you complete at least 15 credit hours of SERV courses (or SERV courses plus major field service learning courses), you can earn a degree minor in Service Learning.

Why should I take Service Learning courses?

For lots of reasons! For one thing, all undergraduate baccalaureate students entering Purdue Calumet in the Fall semester of 2008 or later must complete two courses that qualify as Experiential Learning, and all Service Learning courses count toward that Experiential Learning graduation requirement. More importantly, Service Learning courses encourage you to take what you’re learning in the classroom and use it in the real world-to help your community, and to help you better understand your community. Are you learning about global environmental issues in the classroom, for example? What better way to put that knowledge into action than to volunteer to lead environmental tours at the International Friendship Gardens in Michigan City? Service Learning helps you learn and grow as a student and citizen, while having a positive impact on your community at the same time!

How do I sign up for Service Learning courses?

Your advisor can sign you up for these courses, or you can do it yourself through MyPUC. However, it is best that you talk to one of the Service Learning faculty before you enroll, so that you can discuss your goals and decide if Service Learning is right for you. Any of these Service Learning professors will be more than happy to talk to you about the program:

Prof. Judy Hack
Hospitality and Tourism Management Building 123 (219-989-2499)
Academic Learning Center-Room 175 H (219-756-4692)

Prof. Colin Fewer
CLO 286 (219-989-2943)

How much work will I be expected to do?

This depends on the number of credits you’re taking and on whether the course is 100-level, 200-level or 300-level. For SERVL 101, a 1-credit course, you will be expected to perform about 5 hours per week of service and coursework activities. For SERVL 301, a 3-credit course, you will be expected to perform about 15 hours per week of service and coursework activities.

What kinds of Service Learning placements will be available to me?

The Service Learning faculty members are engaged in forming partnerships with all kinds of community organizations across Northwest Indiana. No matter what kind of service work appeals to you, we’ll work with you to make sure that you’re doing work at your placement that interests you and that is meaningful and engaging. You can tutor homeless children at the Spring Valley Shelter in Valparaiso. You can lead environmental tours and educate citizens on environmental issues at the International Friendship Gardens in Michigan City. You can support the arts scene in “the Region” by working for South Shore Arts, or you could deliver meals to the homebound by working for Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana. To get an idea of the variety of placements available to you, check out the United Way Indiana regional volunteer center online at:

What if I’m already doing volunteer work in the community?

Great! We’ll work with your supervisor to make sure that the service you’re performing is appropriate for the course, and we’ll help you choose a course level and course work appropriate to the service goals that you have set.

Can I get credit for service I’ve performed prior to enrolling in the course?

No. It’s important that you have a chance to reflect on your experience while it is ongoing, and to share your reflection with others, in order to get the most out of your Service Learning experience.

What if I don’t have a full semester to give?

We are partnering with the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs on an Alternative Spring Break Project to be offered annually. You can work on a service project full time for the break week and earn credit through SERV 101 toward your Experiential Learning Graduation requirement. Some spring break projects are local and others involve travel with some additional costs.

What if I hate my Service Learning placement? Do I have to finish my service work?

We’ll make every effort to ensure that you have an enriching experience in your placement. If things don’t work out, we have several options. We can modify your work assignment at the placement, or we can modify the learning objectives of the course so that your reflection assignments are structured differently, or we can seek an alternate site or placement. If all else fails, of course, you can withdraw from the class and quit the service placement at any time prior to the withdrawal deadline.