Exploring rural service-learning with RASL

by John Hamerlinck

I recently attended the 2nd annual Rural Alliance for Service Learning (RASL) Summit in Racine, Wisconsin. RASL formed last year when a group of about 25 people met to discuss both the opportunities and the challenges related to engaging higher education institutions in meaningful partnerships in support of rural communities.

This year’s Summit focused on a collaborative research project being led by Randy Stoecker from the University of Wisconsin, and funded in part, by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.  The research includes a literature review on the limited rural-specific service-learning research that exists, a number of folks writing case studies about rural service-learning projects (You can read my case studies on projects assisted by the Gustavus Adolphus/St. Peter Partnership Council, and the Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota Morris, on the RASL site), and a white paper that outlines what we’ve learned and where we want to go next.

The white paper will be academic, but straightforward. It will be interdisciplinary, informative, and hopefully contain enough ideas to encourage lots of effective practice in the field. The paper should be published early next year.

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