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FACULTY NEWS

ILR Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior Michael Lounsbury listens in on a lively group

discussion during his Service Learning class.

Inside the Classroom

Service Learning

(ILROB 322/ SOC 323)

by Alicia Smith

Walk by Ives 112 on a Tuesday afternoon

and you will likely see a classroom

filled with students engaged

in a lively discussion about the difference

between a stranger and an outsider, whether

a culture of poverty exists, or the definition

of deviance. These students are part of

Professor Lounsbury’s service learning class:

a course designed to engage undergraduates

in organized service opportunities as

a means of enhancing course content and

promoting civic responsibility. The class is

popular (demand for seats is greater than

supply), and it is clear that students are

excited about this “hands-on” approach to

learning.

As part of the class, students spend two

to four hours per week at a local community

or governmental organization working on a

service-learning field project, while at the

same time learning sociological theory in

the classroom. The list of prospective field

projects is long and diverse and includes

everything from training to become a disaster

responder with the Red Cross Emergency

Services, to preparing health education

workshops at the Ithaca Youth Bureau, to

teaching clients how to use computers at the

downtown Women’s Opportunity Center. The

goal is to provide a reciprocal learning process

where students simultaneously apply

theory to practical situations and develop

a more comprehensive understanding of

theoretical perspectives learned in class by

participating in carefully selected servicelearning

field projects.

An assistant professor in the department

of organizational behavior, Professor

Lounsbury came to the ILR School in 1999.

In his short time with the ILR School, he has

been awarded the Kaplan Faculty Fellowship

in Civic Engagement (2002) and the General

Mills Award for Innovation in Teaching

(2001), demonstrating Cornell’s support of

public service learning.

Lounsbury developed his service learning

course with help from Cornell’s Public Service

Center, an organization founded in 1991 to

provide opportunities for students to participate

in service-learning through volunteering,

work-study or project implementation.

S O U N D B I T E S

“Unions are clearly

in a defensive mode.

Unionized operations have

been hit disproportionately

by layoffs. It is a tough period

right now for labor. ”

— Richard Hurd, professor of industrial

and labor relations and director of labor

studies, commented in a New York Times

article on February 25, 2003, reporting on

the annual meeting of the AFL-CIO.

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