Written by Emily Hoffer, Portland State University.
Student Leaders for Service (SLS) at Portland State University was recently honored with third place in the Talloires Network’s MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. The MacJannet Prize recognizes exceptional student civic engagement initiatives around the world.
The SLS program provides students with opportunities to significantly address community concerns in surrounding communities while simultaneously preparing future civic leaders by providing opportunities for students to:
- explore theoretical and practical approaches to service;
- engage in democratic citizenship and community building;
- engage in critically self-reflective placements with local organizations; and
- develop effective communication skills, as well as teamwork, community leadership, and diversity awareness skills.
Through SLS, 25 students make a commitment to serve ten hours a week throughout the academic year at a local organization where they provide direct service to address community needs. Currently, SLS serves as an entry point for community-based organizations to partner with the university and provides resources and opportunities for students interested in community engagement to partner with organizations. Partners and students create year-long student leadership work plans that help guide the work of SLS students as they work with their community partner. All SLS students act as liaisons between the community organization and PSU, working to increase the number of students and faculty that work with that community site. The program is increasingly known among local community organizations as an innovative and effective way to connect students and the university’s resources to community needs and partner organizations in an effort to build their capacity. Since 1999, over 6,000 SLS students and volunteers have provided 82,000 hours of service, to 88 projects in the Portland community. Over 125 faculty and staff have participated in SLS programming. In recent years, SLS has diversified its activities to include global projects at the American University in Cairo and the University of Science in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Sixty-six programs from 54 universities in 27 countries around the world were nominated. The geographic diversity of the winning programs demonstrates the global scope of the movement to incorporate civic engagement within higher education. In all regions of the world, higher education institutions are responding to pressing social issues, and students in particular are championing the idea of global citizenship. The MacJannet Prize recognizes the winning programs as models for universities worldwide and will continue to encourage community engagement within higher education.
More information about SLS, please visit this website.