Service-Learning Program

Service-Learning is an educational approach that integrates meaningful community work with academic curriculum, enriching learning through the application of theory to practice and practice to theory. Service-Learning embraces the principles of reciprocity among all parties––the community partners are co-educators, faculty and students are engaged citizens, and the academy becomes an active member of the local and global community.

Statement of Purpose

Dominican University of California’s vision of education encompasses a mission to promote the common good and the values of study, reflection, community, service, ethical responsibility, and respect for multiple cultural traditions. These ideals provide a strong foundation for service-learning to create intentional links between academic education and community experience, where each strengthens the other. Service-learning engages students, faculty, and community partners in collaborative and responsive action, dialogue, and reflection to address community and university-identified interests, expand our perspectives, and broaden education. In this way, service-learning creates reciprocal benefits for all involved:

  1. The University is able to live out its mission and enhance its role as a vital and active partner in the community;
  2. Faculty and staff are supported in connecting innovative teaching, research/scholarship, and community action;
  3. The Marin County community benefits from University resources while contributing to the education of students; and
  4. Students gain self-awareness, practical skills, career-building experience, insight into the relevance of academic knowledge, a deeper understanding of their own personal impact, and an enriched capacity to become effective community builders.

The mission of Dominican’s Service-Learning Program is to centralize resources and support for faculty, students, partner organizations and the diverse communities they serve in order to advance education and social justice through shared learning and collaborative action.

Definition of Service-Learning at Dominican University of California

Service-Learning integrates meaningful community engagement with academic curriculum, enriching learning through experience and intentional reflection on the interface between theory and practice. Service-Learning:

  • Balances service and learning objectives. In service-learning, partners must negotiate the differences in their needs and expectations.
  • Addresses community concerns with integral involvement of and respect for the expertise/knowledge of community members and partner organizations
  • Emphasizes reciprocal learning and critical education: Traditional roles and hierarchies are intentionally questioned as well as issues of power and privilege.
  • Engenders reflective practice: Reflection facilitates the connection between practice and theory and fosters critical thinking.
  • Cultivates citizenship skills, civic literacy, cultural humility, and increasing social equity: All stakeholders seek to understand and raise awareness of root causes, larger social structures and systemic change strategies, enhancing student capacity for civic responsibility and action.

Service-Learning Designated (SL) Courses Across the Disciplines

For a list of SL Courses type “SL:” into Self-Service Advanced Course Search online. Students participating in service-learning designated courses will receive an “SL” notation on their transcripts, indicating participation in a community-engaged course.

Examples of SL Courses include:

ART 3119Art Fundamentals: Concept to Creation

4.00 units

ENGL 1004Expository Writing

3.00 units

PHIL 1109/PHIL 3109Ethics in Healthcare

3.00 units

RLGN 1055/RLGN 3155A Passion for Justice: Contemporary Christian Liberation Theologies

3.00 units

For a complete list of SL Courses, please visit the Service-Learning webpages at

Courses with the SL designation have met the criteria listed below and are reviewed at the end of each academic year:

  • Academic Connection: Service is related to curriculum and fully integrated into course content and student learning outcomes. Participation is required.
  • Community Voice and Quality Service: The service-learning project/placement engages and fulfills community-identified interests, addressing issues of social and environmental justice.
  • Reciprocity/Collaboration: Represents an understanding of education in which every individual, organization, and entity involved in the service-learning functions as both teacher and learner.
  • Reflection: An intentional and ongoing mechanism or activity that encourages students to link their service experience to course content and to process their personal experience/perceptions.
  • Assessment: A method/tool embedded in the course for understanding effectiveness of service-learning for all participants: faculty, students, and community partners.

Goals of Service-Learning

  • Manifest the Dominican ideals of study, reflection, service, and community.
  • Cultivate capacity to identify larger context and structures that impact the human and natural world.
  • Foster opportunity for students to meaningfully apply intellectual and practical skills in community settings.
  • Practice civic skills and social responsibility demonstrated through cultural humility, empathy, and a commitment to equity.
  • Create the opportunity for students to explore/build their own core values and establish habits of well-being that include relationship building and acting on understanding of interconnectivity.
  • Consider the ethical implications of the application of knowledge in professional and civic life.
  • Expose students to societal inequities and injustices; empower students to work for remedies.
  • Prepare students for their careers and continuing education.
  • Raise awareness regarding local and global issues through critical reflection and creative action.
  • Develop an environment of collegial participation among students, faculty, and the community and a culture of engaged scholarship on our campus.