Service learning combines community service with academic instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking and personal and civic responsibility. Reflective, community- based service learning at an international level can be a vehicle for in-depth understanding of the social issues facing the host country that surpasses education confined to the classroom. It also fosters students’ own personal growth by deepening intercultural competence, enhancing cross-cultural navigation skills, and strengthening their ability to be adaptable, all of which are valuable life skills and highly marketable to future employers and graduate schools. In this seminar, we will address topics intended to give students a greater perspective through which to view their volunteer experience. The assignments are designed to help students articulate their own personal growth throughout the program, understand their role as a member of a community (both locally and globally), and inspire them to be champions of social responsibility.
This interdisciplinary seminar will support student placements in the Immigration Service of the Comune di Milano by giving them the background knowledge necessary to understand why the refugee crisis is occurring and how the City of Milan is handling it, from both an administrative and human perspective. The seminar will begin with an explanation of the historical events that led to the development of the protection of refugees and human rights, and continue with an overview of the migration routes of the migrants/asylum-seekers arriving in Italy today. It will give students familiarity with Italian contemporary society, focusing primarily on the concepts of multiculturalism and integration, and then compare the Italian experience with other European countries.
We will look at case studies of activists in the 20th century who fought for social causes and explore different approaches to civic engagement. Students will analyze their own styles of negotiation and learn how to become more balanced and effective negotiators, which will help them navigate their weekly interactions with both Immigration Services staff and migrants, and also serve them in the future if they become inclined to advocate for social issues in their own communities.