Creating a Service-Learning Concentration in Environmental Science: Lessons Learned


  • Hayley Schiebel
  • Patricia Hogan
  • Scott Lussier


Service-learning is a form of experiential education providing students with both classroom material and an application of the material to a real-world problem with a community partner. This project outlines a four-course service-learning concentration within an environmental science or environmental studies degree at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts (Suffolk). Service-learning components were developed in the 2018-2019 academic year with the help of a grant from the Campuses for Environmental Stewardship Program. The courses were either major required courses or major electives to avoid overburdening students with credits. Fifty-five students were enrolled in the service-learning courses for the proposed concentration in the 2018/2019 academic year at Suffolk. An evaluation (pre/post surveys with 58% response rate) found that students left the term feeling more confident in their communication and teamwork skills, better understood community partners’ needs through their partnerships outside of the classroom and, felt that they would take other service-learning courses given the opportunity. Obstacles for the participating faculty members including additional time inputs, added stresses of administrative paperwork, and the need for a continued financial support to over the service component of the courses on a regular basis did arise.