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Fostering Student Leadership in Tackling Community-Based Problems
Unformatted Document Text:  volunteer work, 85% of students prefer that volunteerism to political participation (Harvard Institute of Politics Study, 2000). Research abounds that demonstrates young people’s underperformance in the political process (Colby et al. 2007; Popkin and Dimock, 1999; Niemi and Junn, 1998). In my years of teaching, with regard to political science, I have found that students particularly have difficulty analyzing and articulating policy problems. Nevertheless, understanding the policy cycle gives students a firmer grip on politics overall allowing them to negotiate their places within the system. By combining deep student reflection and service in the nonprofit sector with a strong foundation in public policy theory, this service-learning project is designed to foster undergraduate students’ understanding of the policy process and growth in internal political efficacy. Service Learning Course Design In the spring of 2007 I was selected as a California Campus Compact-Carnegie Foundation Fellow charged with the responsibility of creating, rolling out and assessing a service-learning course geared at increasing the political involvement of young people. I redesigned a course required for political science majors, but that would also historically attract non-majors interested in learning more about the public policy process. The course, POLS 119: Government in Action: Public Policy, consists of two major parts: a conceptual and theoretical classroom-based course (the components of which are listed in Appendix A), and a service-learning portion. Public Policy is an upper level course that examines the theoretical literature on policy-making, including the role of multiple actors from Congress to interest groups, policy analysis, and the nature of policy change. The service-learning portion of the course requires 7-10 additional hours per week outside of 3

Authors: Sylvester, Dari.
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volunteer work, 85% of students prefer that volunteerism to political participation
(Harvard Institute of Politics Study, 2000). Research abounds that demonstrates young
people’s underperformance in the political process (Colby et al. 2007; Popkin and
Dimock, 1999; Niemi and Junn, 1998). In my years of teaching, with regard to political
science, I have found that students particularly have difficulty analyzing and articulating
policy problems. Nevertheless, understanding the policy cycle gives students a firmer
grip on politics overall allowing them to negotiate their places within the system. By
combining deep student reflection and service in the nonprofit sector with a strong
foundation in public policy theory, this service-learning project is designed to foster
undergraduate students’ understanding of the policy process and growth in internal
political efficacy.
Service Learning Course Design
In the spring of 2007 I was selected as a California Campus Compact-Carnegie
Foundation Fellow charged with the responsibility of creating, rolling out and assessing a
service-learning course geared at increasing the political involvement of young people. I
redesigned a course required for political science majors, but that would also historically
attract non-majors interested in learning more about the public policy process. The
course, POLS 119: Government in Action: Public Policy, consists of two major parts: a
conceptual and theoretical classroom-based course (the components of which are listed in
Appendix A), and a service-learning portion. Public Policy is an upper level course that
examines the theoretical literature on policy-making, including the role of multiple actors
from Congress to interest groups, policy analysis, and the nature of policy change. The
service-learning portion of the course requires 7-10 additional hours per week outside of
3


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