Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Connecting Students and Chicago – DePaul’s Community Involvement

As a large, urban university DePaul University must consider the social and communal relationship that it has to Chicago and Chicago’s neighborhoods. In so doing, DePaul can have a significant role in building Chicago’s sustainable future. At this time DePaul is moving forward in building these partnerships. The Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning and Community Service Studies is working hard to foster these relationships and putting DePaul at the forefront of helping students understand their relationship to Chicago.

Founded in 2001 through a generous donation from Chicago banker Harrison Steans, the Steans Center’s mission is to develop mutually beneficial relationships with community-based organizations in order to develop a sense of social agency in DePaul students, faculty, staff and alumni. Using the ABCD model of community development, the Steans Center is committed to building a community where all community members have a voice, working to empower Chicago’s neighborhoods and foster a more satisfying community experience for all community members. Through this model the Steans Center not only focuses on community needs but seeks active participation from the community.

The Steans Center believes that if all community members are welcome to participate, a community is fostered and made more sustainable. For a greater understanding of the ABCD model for community development visit http://www.proveandimprove.org/new/tools/ABCD.php. The Steans Center provides a vital link between nonprofit and government organizations in Chicago and DePaul University. Among these organizations are ABC Youth Center, an after-school tutoring program on Chicago’s West Side, and Off the Streets, a youth development organization working to get Chicago youth off the streets.

The Steans Center website lists over 500 community and government organizations that collaborate with the Steans Center and DePaul University. Through the Steans Center website community-based organizations can apply to collaborate with DePaul and the extensive resources accessible through the DePaul University community. In fostering these relationships, the Steans Center organizes service learning classes for DePaul students, including a “Discover Chicago” course that combines seven weeks of course learning with a week-long immersion on a chosen topic outside the classroom and out in Chicago. Furthermore, the Steans Center organizes and facilitates student internships with numerous community organizations in Chicago. This vital link brings DePaul students face-to-face with Chicago’s problems, making them active participants in the communities they live in.

The Steans Center is creating tomorrow’s service leaders. As DePaul students graduate, there is a hope that because of the great work occurring through the Steans Center, DePaul alumni will lead the way toward creating a just and sustainable future for Chicago’s citizens.

For more on the Steans Center at DePaul University visit their website: http://steans.depaul.edu/

To watch a short video on DePaul’s vision to take students outside the classroom and into Chicago watch the video here: http://www.depaul.edu/multimedia/ExtendClassroomLearning.asp

You can also follow the Stean Center’s activities and development on facebook and twitter: http://twitter.com/DePaulSteans

Posted by Marshall Houserman
Photo credit: Steans Center

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