University of Vermont

Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning

Service-Learning at UVM

Service-learning has a distinguished history at the University of Vermont. Home and alma mater of John Dewey, the famous progressive educator, Burlington and UVM have long valued engagement in community and experiential education as key foundations for citizenship. Dewey saw education as the process of actively connecting experience to knowledge through engagement in and reflection on the world outside the classroom (Noddings, 1998). Combining this view of education with the land-grant mission's commitment to Vermont, UVM opened the first named service-learning center in the country in 1970. Today, community engagement continues throughout the institution, and the academic service-learning program remains strong.

Compared to peer institutions, UVM offers more service-learning courses and enrolls a higher percentage of its student body. National data about the benefits of service-learning are confirmed here, where students report higher levels of academic challenge, greater interaction with a faculty member, and higher levels of critical thinking and real world problem-solving coming out of their SL courses (UVM NSSE 2014 data). The CUPS office facilitates these courses with programs for faculty, students and community partners.

Some highlights from the most recent academic year are below; more information is found in our annual and special reports. In 2016 there were:

  • A record 99 service-learning courses, reaching over 2,500 undergraduates - or 17.8% of the student body.
  • 25 NEW service-learning courses, many taught by recent Service-Learning Fellows in CUPS.
  • 8 new Faculty Fellows for Service-Learning.
  • 15 workshops for students on "transferable skills" gained in service-learning courses.
  • 9 awards for Outstanding Service-Learning given to UVM faculty, students and community partners at UVM and state-wide.
  • 10 service-learning courses profiled by University Communications.