Education for Tomorrow's World, the report that led to the development of New Courses 2012, recommended that all UWA students be required to devote a minimum of 20 hours, at some stage during their undergraduate enrolment, to service with a community organisation.
A Service Learning Working Party established as part of the implementation process formed the view that the scale and mandatory nature of this recommendation should not be regarded as absolute because it was framed in a way that would create difficulties both of principle and of practice. At the level of principle there was a conflict between (1) the ideal of a service ethos, associated with a spirit of voluntary giving, and (2) the emphasis on compulsion and compliance. At the level of practice there were many prudential considerations that would make literal implementation extremely demanding and probably unmanageable.
Accordingly the Working Party advised, and Academic Council agreed, that the main purpose underlying that recommendation (rather than the specific terms in which it had been formulated) should be pursued carefully through a staged process. That main purpose, clearly enunciated in Education for Tomorrow's World, is to increase students' engagement with the wider community through service activities as a means of developing their awareness of social needs, citizenship responsibilities and leadership capabilities.
The University therefore resolved:
The Service Learning Working Party has met regularly since early 2009 to plan the necessary arrangements for making progress towards those objectives. In recent months it has taken the following steps:
A paper is currently being prepared for presentation to Academic Council at its 3 August meeting. It will discuss the defining and recording of service learning activities on students' academic transcripts, and will include detailed information and proposals on such topics as:
Winthrop Professor Ian Reid
Senior Academic Reviewer
CRICOS Code: 00126G