Community-Based Service Learning

Hartwick College is committed to Community-Based Service Learning (CBSL) as an important tool to further its mission of melding liberal arts with experiential learning.

Through CBSL, students apply course content to help find solutions for every-day problems in our Oneonta community. They learn the practical applications of their studies, and in the process they become actively contributing citizens and community members who make a difference through the service they perform.

At Hartwick College, CBSL is a credit-bearing activity in which groups of students work with community partners under the guidance of a professor or staff member to meet both educational goals and the needs of the partner organization. Reflection activities and discussions on the service augment the understanding of course content, create a broader awareness of the discipline’s impact in the community, and develop a sense of civic responsibility.

At Hartwick, CBSL is characterized by:

  • Engagement – Service or work that addresses local community needs and involves them in the learning process
  • Academics – A direct link between the community-based work and the Hartwick curriculum
  • Reflection – In which students actively combine learning in and out of the classroom
  • Reciprocity – When CBSL moves learning out of the classroom, all stakeholders have the potential to function as both a teacher and a learner. Participants are colleagues rather than clients.

In conducting service-learning activities, Hartwick students bridge theory with experience, and thought with action. The Oneonta community’s needs are addressed though a participatory and reciprocal process in which service is meaningful and relevant. Hartwick students engage in long-term relationships with community members and leaders, and see how their academic disciplines can solve critical everyday problems in the community.

Through CBSL, Hartwick students develop an awareness of the needs and experiences of the community, an enhanced sense of responsibility toward society, and preparation for careers and continued education.

CBSL combines the experiences of community service with the benefits of academic study through exposure to concrete issues and solutions within a discipline. Students can also strengthen their employment opportunities by citing these service-learning activities on their resumes and gaining valuable insights into future careers.


CBSL vs. Volunteering & Internships 

Unlike volunteering, which many students have experienced in high school,  CBSL is a longer-term service opportunity (a semester or longer) in which learning is continually reinforced in and out of the classroom through reading, writing, research, interviews, and group projects.

Internships tend to focus on the student’s goals by concentrating on gaining experience in a professional setting. CBSL balances that goal with the needs of the community to provide an identified service. It also places the student into a community agency for 15-40 hours of service during a semester, allowing the student to carry a normal academic load of other major and general education classes. There is no monetary compensation for CBSL courses.


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