Service learning is one of the four primary branches of Beyond the Classroom activities at the Honors College. It is an enhanced form of academic learning in which service not only benefits the community, but also enriches the academic experience.
While participation in student service organizations can be a valuable college experience, service learning is distinguished by a formal academic component. In order to receive Beyond the Classroom credit for your service experience, it must be taken as an Honors College service learning class.
Service Learning Courses
When you enroll in an Honors service learning course, you will apply your classroom knowledge to serve real community needs while fulfilling the Honors College Beyond the Classroom requirement. We believe that every major and interest area presents an opportunity to serve, so each semester we offer service learning courses led by faculty who have built careers harnessing their talents for good. Service learning courses in the Honors College ask you to go beyond the books to shape the city—take a look at how some of our recent and ongoing courses have served our community.
Homelessness in South Carolina
Taught by professor of psychology Dr. Bret Kloos, students spent time getting to know the homeless in Columbia and working with organizations that serve them. As their final product in the class, students crafted research and advocacy projects to tackle the problem of homelessness in the state.
Dr. W. Joe Jones, School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment, worked with students to build a functional aquaponics system. The students installed the system at a local children’s shelter, Palmetto Place, to be used as a learning tool for the residents.
Spanish for Healthcare Professionals
Students in Carla Swygert’s Spanish for Healthcare Professionals learn the language by engaging in-person with patients in a Spanish-speaking clinic. They translate patients’ symptoms and work alongside medical professionals, gaining hands-on experience in the field.
Women in Society
Dr. Mary B. Waters’ students delve into psychological, historical, anthropological, economic, and political contexts of women in society. Working with local agencies like women’s shelters, after-school girls’ groups, and other organizations helps make their classroom knowledge concrete.
Earn Beyond the Classroom Credit
When you take an Honors College service learning course, you’re not only making a positive impact in the community; you’ll meet the Beyond the Classroom requirement for Honors students. The service learning experience has also inspired many of our students’ Honors theses. You’ll make a difference in others’ lives and your academic journey, too!
Student Service Organizations
If a service learning course doesn’t quite fit into your academic schedule, there are still many opportunities to volunteer. Honors College student organizations have built long-standing relationships with community partners to positively impact Columbia.
While participation in student service organizations is a valuable college experience, service learning is distinguished by a formal academic component. Service learning will only receive Beyond the Classroom credit if taken as an Honors College service learning class.
Popular Service Organizations
Communities in Harmony
Members of Communities in Harmony are focused on making a positive musical experience for the children they visit each week. This organization began as a South Carolina Honors College outreach initiative striving to use music as a tool to enrich the lives of the people they work with. In order to do this, members collaboratively plan every session. They share songs, dances and musical games to take to the various afterschool programs that they partner with each semester. The adaptive, cooperative and personal skills developed have shaped the members into sensitive, perceptive volunteers. Each session has a designated leader who guides the day’s activities. Typically, these leaders are the volunteers with the most experience, but the opportunity is open to anyone who desires to develop those skills. The volunteers gather for planning retreats, monthly meetings, and weekly volunteer sessions. Communities in Harmony won student organization of the year in 2014 and has been awarded funds from the Hootie and the Blowfish Grant for their initiatives.
Waverly Afterschool Programs
Waverly Afterschool Programs was started in 2003 by a motivated group of Honors College students who learned of a local need for afterschool tutors during a Martin Luther King Day of Service. Since then, Waverly has become a student organization and has been awarded a lifetime grant of $10,000 by State Farm Insurance. Their mission is to enhance the lives and opportunities of children in the Columbia community, to serve as educational role models who provide a fun, safe and caring experience, to develop the self-esteem and literacy skills of all children who participate, and to help children realize that they can overcome life's challenges. Waverly members believe that all children need a safe place to go after school each day with caring, responsible adults and programs that encourage both learning and personal growth. Waverly Afterschool Programs has four core functions: 1) To provide educational enrichment 2) To promote continued educational excellence 3) To provide youth with positive role models, and 4) To develop student volunteers into leaders.
Project VIDA is a student organization at the University of South Carolina that welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds. Members of Project VIDA create presentations about healthy living for elementary, middle, and high school populations in underprivileged communities. It started through an Honors College initiative (Drop Everything And Lead) and has been supported by the Bernard and Arline Ramsdale Endowment Fund. Since its creation in fall 2010, Project Vida has been committed to educating youth in the Columbia community about healthy living. Volunteers in Project Vida have learned to seamlessly translate their academic passions into interactive and fun presentations for the young people they work with. This organization has given students the opportunity to use their classroom experiences to impact the lives of community members, while receiving personal, professional, and civic growth. One Project Vida member stated, “Even though we are the ones providing the information on health, I never fail to learn new things with each presentation.” The students in Project Vida have truly become a part of the community that they serve. Project VIDA won the Outstanding Student Organization Service Award in 2014.
Carolina Homelessness Outreach
The Carolina Homelessness Outreach brings together students of the University of South Carolina who have a common interest in serving the homeless around Columbia. Members participate in excursions to various venues focused on helping the homeless, reflect upon experiences, and advocate for the importance of seeing beyond stereotypes in order to care for homeless people as fellow human beings. Volunteers with the organization hope to make positive differences in the lives of homeless individuals, to grow in fulfillment and understanding of themselves, to develop positive relationships with other community outreach programs, and to increase awareness of homelessness and help foster a positive community attitude. The organization was started by a student after completing Dr. Bret Kloos’ Honors College service learning class, Addressing Homelessness in South Carolina.
Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter
Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter provides a safe and nurturing environment for abused and neglected children and unaccompanied teens, offering them a broad range of services concentrating on personal healing and development. The shelter is open 24 hours each day of the year and provides medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after-school tutoring and recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter. The South Carolina Honors College has a unique partnership with Palmetto Place that allows faculty, staff, and students to participate in various volunteer opportunities, fundraising efforts, and donation drives. In the past, the Honors College has sponsored and attended trips to the South Carolina State Fair, Mad Platter, and college visits and tours with the children at the shelter. In addition, the Honors College has hosted musical concerts for Palmetto Place, fall festivals, Valentine's Day celebrations and a Redress to Impress event that provided prom dresses for teens at the shelter.