Service-Learning – what is it? 

It is an organized, course-based, credit-bearing educational experience; the service activity meets a recognized community need; and, students reflect on this activity to gain deeper understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, an enhanced sense of civic responsibility and/or a greater interest in and understanding of community life (definition adapted from Bringle, R. and Hatcher, J. A service learning curriculum for faculty, The Michigan journal of community service learning, Fall 1995, pp 112-122; and Student Action for a Change downloaded on December 17, 2013 from Northern Kentucky University’s Civic Engagement website.

Instructor Holly Bell and her Introduction to Business students

Service-Learning – History at MSC 

Service learning was formally introduced at Mat-Su College in the fall of 2008 when the Community College National Center for Community Engagement (CCNCCE), a grantee of Learn and Serve America (part of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service), approached MSC to assess its interest in a grant. MSC applied for and was awarded a $25,000 grant.  It also received valuable training and technical assistance from CCNCCE with which it developed three projects.  The first project was adaptation of a major assignment in the Introduction to Business course where small groups of students developed business plans for non-profit groups in the community rather than a textbook based plan for a hypothetical for-profit company.  One student who had previously only considered careers in the for-profit sector recognized that the number and array of career opportunities increased dramatically as she contemplated work in the non-profit sector.  A faculty member in the Refrigeration and Heating program proposed enhancing one of his classes by offering an energy audit of commercial refrigeration equipment to food pantry operators.  This would be followed up with recommendations for improving energy efficiency.  The final project included building of raised beds at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home in Palmer and development of a multi-year organic garden at the Palmer Center for Sustainability (commonly referred to as the UAF Farm).  Produce from the garden has been donated to local senior centers and food pantries.

raised planter beds

Raised beds at the Alaska Veterans & Pioneers Home, Palmer


A sampling of Service-Learning Projects

Summary of MSC Service-Learning Handout

For Faculty

Presentations on Service-Learning through CAFE’s 20 Minute Mentor Series:

How do I Get Started with Service-Learning and Can Service-Learning Work in My DisciplineArchived presentations and handouts are available.  Log in using your UAA id

Introduction to Service-Learning course construction

Sample Syllabi

MSC Samples (projects, syllabus language, budget information)

Ready to Apply for a Faculty Service-Learning Mini-grant?

Online mini-grant application form