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California State University Students Fuel the State’s Economy through Service Learning

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Mike Uhlenkamp
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(October 19, 2012) – More than 85,000 students throughout the California State University work with nearly 2,300 community partners to meet the growing needs of their communities through service learning, as detailed in the CSU’s Center for Community Engagement’s recently released 2011-12 Annual Report.

Service learning is a dynamic experience that allows students to enhance their in-class learning through active participation in and reflection of, meaningful work performed in their community. As part of its commitment to meet the ever-changing needs of California, the CSU boasts nearly 2,600 service-learning courses available annually.

These students represent majors as diverse as their experiences. The hands-on nature of service learning offers psychology students at Sonoma State University the chance to provide support to more than 125 families with autistic children. Students are trained to implement interventions, provide direct care and family support, and offer resources to help increase awareness of autism in the community. Student designers at CSU Northridge research cotton products with sustainable dyes and finishes to construct trendy apparel and accessories for the Sustainable Cotton Show. Students in aquatic ecology at Fresno State have the chance to work with the USDA Water Management research lab to learn how to help improve agricultural productivity and sustainability, and reduce negative environmental impacts.  These are just a few examples of how students are making a difference in their communities through service learning.

In 2010, with funding from Learn and Serve America, the CSU expanded its efforts to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) service-learning courses and contribute to the national effort to produce more workforce-ready STEM graduates. These courses invite STEM service learners to work with local grade schools, businesses, and nonprofit and government agencies to address real world problems with real world solutions.

“The CSU shoulders much of the state’s commitment to provide future generations with an educated citizenry and workforce. Engaged learning, efficient transfer, and community connections all improve our students’ prospects to earn a high-quality degree,” said Judy Botelho, CSU director of the Center for Community Engagement.  “Chancellor Reed, CSU faculty, and partners like Learn and Serve America have been instrumental in building the foundation that exists in the CSU so that we now can provide many more opportunities for students to participate in service learning.”

In fact, more than 20 percent of CSU students now participate in service learning every year, surpassing by twenty-five percent the goal outlined by CSU’s Board of Trustees in 2000.

Read the exciting ways CSU students are sparking interest in STEM among K-12 students, producing innovative technologies that increase the quality of living for children and adults living with a disability, and restoring natural habitats in the Center for Community Engagement 2011-12 Annual Report.

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 427,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. The CSU awards about 99,000 degrees annually and since its creation in 1961 has conferred nearly 2.6 million. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. Connect with and learn more about the CSU at CSU Social Media. Show how the CSU matters to you and take action.