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Service Learning

Service Learning

This is a relatively new concept in Spain, but is widely known at universities in other countries. Service Learning (ApS) is a very effective learning tool involving a pedagogical approach based on solidarity-based experiences in which teachers, students and administration and service staff work together to help meet the specific needs of a social welfare organisation.

Projects are proposed as part of modules so that students can develop certain specific and transversal competences. The projects aim to assist social welfare organisations.

Given this context, students are particularly motivated when it comes to studying these modules because they know that the goods they produce or services they provide will help a group of people with some kind of social need.

Some of the Service Learning projects carried out at the Public University of Navarre in 2012-13 included “Working for equity” with Teacher Training students and children at risk of social exclusion at the state-run school in Mutilva; “Hot Soup for the homeless” with Sociology students and the soup kitchen PARIS-365; and “Solidarity Food Production” with Agricultural, Food and Rural Environment Engineering undergraduates and the Soup kitchen PARIS-365.

This is the first Service-Learning project ever run by the School of Agricultural Engineering and is organised by a professor who teaches Vegetable crops and Vegetable and forced crops. Fifteen third-year Agricultural, Food and Rural Environment Engineering undergraduates have taken part.

The aim of the project is to design a greenhouse vegetable crop programme to meet the food requirements of a soup kitchen which provides 70 lunches and 70 dinners a day. Fortnightly food parcels are also given to people with greater food needs. The school devotes two 380 m2 greenhouses to making the project and the programme designed a reality, with students playing a direct part in the crop production process, checking progress “in situ”  and delivering the food as planned. Over the length of the module, combining practical work with the relevant theory classes, the students have produced vegetables to meet the needs of the soup kitchen for two months.

In addition to the technical knowledge acquired, visiting the soup kitchen, finding out about these people’s needs and seeing the situation they are in also allows us to educate our students in solidarity.

Educating our students in solidarity will gradually turn the university into an institution with a strong commitment to the social development of the local Community.

Other Service-Learning experiences have included Degree Final Projects such as: Restoration and garden landscaping at the Ramón y Cajal centre belonging to the association ASPACE in Cizur Menor (Navarre).

A Degree Final Project is currently being conducted for the Development of a Project for the design of an urban vegetable garden as a means of reducing the effects of a future social issue.