Service Learning and the PULSE Program at BC
boisi center for religion and american public life
On September 13, the Boisi Center welcomed Meghan Sweeney, associate professor of the practice of theology and the Cooney Family Director of the PULSE Program for Service Learning at BC. PULSE is an undergraduate program that combines academic learning with service work. It seeks to educate undergraduate students about social justice through volunteer placements at one of 55 community partner organizations throughout Boston. PULSE incorporates the works of classical and modern thinkers to discuss themes such as civic virtue and spirituality and relate them to students’ service experiences.
Sweeney began the luncheon by describing the importance of service learning in one’s educational and personal development. The program reinforces classroom learning by encouraging students to develop a meaningful relationship with people outside of BC. In the greater Boston community, undergraduates experience firsthand socioeconomic and social disparities. There are approximately 500 students currently in the PULSE program; each student is tasked with volunteering eight hours a week at various community partners.
Students are often challenged by their PULSE experiences. PULSE engages these problems through weekly discussion sections that allow participants to reflect on their service placements with their peers. Students learn from the experiences of their classmates. The pairing of academic study with service learning incorporates the theories of great Western thinkers in discussions about volunteerism and service.