Campus - 20.09.2016 - 00:00 

Learning through social engagement

Linking up volunteers with social organisations and enshrining social engagement in teaching: this is the objective of two initiatives that have emerged from courses at the HSG.

21 September 2016. Responsible action requires an integrative perspective, which is why the HSG does not only set great store by professional education, but also by contextual knowledge and personality development. Courses at the HSG have resulted in two networks which facilitate social engagement and enshrine it in teaching: Benedu und Volunty.

Establishing service learning in Switzerland
HSG students have developed an online platform which links up social institutions with volunteers at schools and universities. The Benedu platform is intended to foster "service learning" at universities nationwide. The website was the result of a seminar entitled "Service learning – students engaged in society" at the Institute for Business Ethics of the University of St.Gallen. 20 undergraduates developed the platform jointly with Dr. Christoph Schank and Ursula Huber. The website is operated by the Swiss Centre for Service Learning.

The online platform will enable the University of St.Gallen to establish the concept of service learning even more strongly in schools and universities and to strengthen the national network. "Service learning encourages learning with heart, mind and practical action: social engagement makes students understand how to tackle complex challenges and to make contributions to the common good," says course leader Dr. Christoph Schank. Service learning combines two elements: service, i.e. engagement for the benefit of society, and learning, i.e. the training of specialist, methodological and social competencies.

Working as an everyday helper in the St.Gallen region

"Social engagement in practice and theory" is also the subject matter of a course run by Dr. Anna-Katharina Klöckner, which the University of St.Gallen offers jointly with all four branch offices of the Spitex care service. In the context of the seminar, students will spend time with people who are dependent on help. Everyday care includes conversations, walks or help with shopping. In parallel with this, students deal with the theoretical aspects of the significance of social work and reflect on their experience in a paper. The course of "Social engagement in practice and theory" is one of five intergenerational projects which the Kulturprozent of Migros Ostschweiz 2016 is promoting and funding this year. The projects will be presented in Chur on Wednesday, 21 September 2016.

Interlinking committed students

Marco Meister, who participated in the course on "Social engagement is practice and theory", has launched the Volunty initiative. The digital portal brings together institutions and students who want to engage in social projects. It is the declared aim of the initiative to make volunteering simple and effective. Students who frequently volunteer through Volunty will also be able to meet personalities from society, politics and business if they wish to do so and thus let themselves be inspired to pursue further charitable projects.

photo: Photocase / maikdoerfer

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