Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sustainable Servant Leaders

While DePaul University takes great pride in its role as an urban university, providing a vital educational and social service to Chicago, more can and should be done by DePaul in creating a future cadre of servant leaders. One way that DePaul can be at the forefront of servant leadership is through creating a service requirement for all undergraduate and graduate students before they may earn their degree.

Currently DePaul undergraduates majoring in liberal studies are required to engage in at least four credit hours of “experiential learning,” whereby they combine classroom knowledge with a learning experience that exists outside the classroom. There are courses in many departments that fit this requirement. Some are internships or externships, while others are a hybrid between a classroom-based learning environment and selected learning experiences outside the classroom. While this is a good start, more must be done to create DePaul students that are tomorrow’s future servant leaders. The way to do this is to establish a servant leadership program, required of all undergraduates and graduate students before they may earn their appropriate degree. All students must become engaged members of the Chicago community to ensure Chicago remains a sustainable community. Requiring a service component to graduation takes experiential learning a step further, as students will no longer have the opportunity to be passive observers when completing an experience outside the classroom. There are other colleges and universities that currently lead the way in requiring a service component as a core component for obtaining an undergraduate degree. Students at Tulane University in New Orleans must fulfill one service requirement before they may graduate. Students at Wittenberg University in Ohio must complete a semester-long service requirement to obtain their university degree. At Wittenberg students must register for the service as course credit, meet with a university staff member to outline their service and determine whether their service plans meet university standards, and then discuss their service results in reflections with other students, faculty and staff. Other universities, such as the University of Cincinnati, provide financial assistance scholarships with stipulations that require those scholarship holders to complete some form of public service.

DePaul should be at the forefront of creating service leaders. By requiring students to complete some form of public service, DePaul will create an engaged university community, attune to the needs of those not only in Chicago but throughout the U.S. and the world. DePaul’s requirement might also attract those students that desire an academic community looking to create a sustainable future. Sustainability is not something merely ecological. Servant leaders can help build ecologically sustainable communities, or help correct social injustices and poverty issues to allow others to participate in a sustainable future. Creating a servant leadership requirement of all DePaul students would help the university be true to its mission and values. From the Office of Mission and Values : DePaul University emphasizes the development of a full range of human capabilities and appreciation of higher education as a means to engage cultural, social, religious, and ethical values in service to others. What better way for DePaul to help build the foundations for a sustainable community and sustainable future, while remaining true to the core values the university seeks to fulfill.

For information on public service requirements at other universities visit these links: http://www4.wittenberg.edu/witt_services/community_service/community_service_100.html


For information on the U.S. government’s call to public service visit:


For more on DePaul's Mission and Values visit: http://mission.depaul.edu/Pages/default.aspx

Posted by Marshall Houserman

Photo Credit - www.serve.gov

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