In 1997, with support from the Corporation for National Service (CNS), the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), consisting of 300 member institutions, and Generations Together (GT), an Intergenerational Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh, joined forces to develop, promote, support, and expand the opportunities for AGHE member institutions to enhance the learning of gerontology students and meet community needs through an innovative method of teaching: intergenerational service-learning. AGHE recognizes intergenerational service-learning as fitting naturally into the philosophy and pedagogy of aging education. Through this project, AGHE has worked(1) to build and enhance the capacity of its member institutions and their faculty to provide service-learning and related intergenerational contact between students and older persons during gerontology courses; and (2) to build and enhance the AGHE’s capacity and infrastructure to support the expansion and improvement of intergenerational service-learning in gerontology within and beyond its member institutions.
This project addresses the educational needs of gerontology students and faculty, the human service needs of older adults, and the need for AGHE to expand its capacity to support service-learning initiatives in gerontology. It also promotes faculty development, increases student voice and leadership in the development of service-learning, and builds institutional commitment to service projects and involvement in the community.
Service-learning, as defined by the Corporation for National Service, is an innovative method of teaching and learning that integrates community service activities into academic curricula. Within service-learning, classroom studies complement service within the community and enable students to reflect upon and lead to addressing local and national problems. Service-learning curricula extends the classroom into the community. It transforms students from passive learners in the classroom to activelearners in the community. In service-learning, the focus of the service is on meeting real needs in the community. This differs from the focus of an internship or practicum which typically focuses on the development of student skills or the enhancement of the service delivery of a community agency. In this sense, service-learning is a philosophy of education that integrates service to the community.
For information on the various resources available through AGHE to develop service-learning at your institution, please click here.