Kansas Wesleyan University has launched a new unique service-learning initiative that is believed to be the only program of its kind offered by a four-year higher-education institution in the country. Wesleyan Journeys—travel experiences combining academic credit with a service component—will be available to all students beginning in fall 2015. The university will fund one Wesleyan Journey for all qualifying students prior to graduation, at no additional cost.
All Service-Learning courses and opportunities will be coordinated by the new Center for Global Service Learning. Kansas Wesleyan University has partnered with led2serveU, a sister company of led2serve, a 501 (c)(3) organization that has been leading service-learning journeys for the past five years, to run The Center. Vanessa Puleo, Executive Director and co-founded of the organization in Florida, has relocated to Salina to oversee The Center for KWU.
Puleo has already begun working with several faculty members to establish Wesleyan Journeys for fall of 2015. Any undergraduate student who has completed four semesters and is in good standing can participate a Wesleyan Journey for no additional cost.
“This partnership with led2serve will enable us to facilitate the successful rollout of the Wesleyan Journey,” says Dr. Matt Thompson, President and CEO. “It is not a study abroad experience. The service component makes this unique. It is a guaranteed opportunity for every student to integrate into their college experience an out-of-the-classroom learning journey that allows them to increase multicultural competencies, gain a global perspective on the world, and put classroom theory into practice.”
Dr. Thompson chose led2serve because of the longstanding relationships the organization had with community partners in cities in the United States and around the world. He traveled with the led2serve directors and 17 students, faculty and alumni to Costa Rica over spring break.
“It was absolutely amazing to watch how our students grew and changed over the course of five days,” he said. “Many of our students have never been outside of the state of Kansas or have never been on an airplane; they didn’t speak Spanish, and they had never been exposed to poverty. You can’t help but be changed when you participate in a service-learning experience.”
The university took a major step toward enhancing the educational experience at Kansas Wesleyan when the faculty began a curriculum revision in the fall 2013. The new curriculum is expected to begin in the fall of 2015. The introduction of the Study Away Journeys and the Wesleyan Journey is another step toward significantly and positively enhancing the student experience at Kansas Wesleyan University.
“This is an exciting time to be at Kansas Wesleyan,” said Dr. Thompson. “College students today have different learning styles, are looking for meaning in their careers, and they need new skills to keep them marketable in our ever-changing world. We are enhancing the curriculum to include more global awareness and service opportunities, and we offering new and unique degree programs all while staying true to our foundation of faith and the solid liberal arts curriculum for the 21st century learner.”
For more information on upcoming courses, The Center for Global Service Learning, and led2ServeU, please visit http://www.kwu.edu/current-students/wesleyan-journey/the-center-for-global-service-learning.