SSU Students and Faculty

“As Sonoma State University’s strategic plan includes goals in the areas of academic quality, community engagement, diversity, and sustainability, I am confident that service-learning and civic engagement will continue to be an integral part of the curriculum and campus life.”
—SSU President Ruben Armiñana

SSU quad

Diversity / Multicultural Competence

As one of the CCE’s Strategic Priorities is diversity, the CCE actively participates in diversity efforts on campus working towards utilizing community engaged teaching, scholarship, faculty service and student service in partnership with community organizations that work with diverse populations. We also target our outreach to potential community partners to those that work with diverse populations.

Service-learning, the most studied community engaged teaching method, is an important tool for increasing civic learning and engagement.

One of the most consistent findings from the service-learning research is that the service experience provides a “nearly universal” reduction in negative stereotypes and an increase in tolerance for diversity.1 Service-learning facilitates an increased awareness of stereotypes and assumptions while students begin to understand larger social issues that affect their service sites.2 Students in service-learning programs consisting of regular interaction with people from different ethnic backgrounds are more likely to report growth in self-knowledge and personal growth and greater appreciation of other cultures. Additionally, a study showed that students enrolled in service-learning sections of a race relations class showed greater increases in diversity awareness than sections that did not contain a service-learning component.3

Service-learning is an effective tool for developing multicultural competence because it “offers a structure for community based learning, collaborative in intent and responsive to local needs.” Programs with shared control listen to and consider the perspectives of those who are “disenfranchised or marginalized in our society.” In this way, service-learning is more than a means for those in power to serve the less fortunate, but rather provides students with a “multicultural education” whereby they begin to understand local issues from a different perspective.4

Please remember, students of color and students from low-income families may have a different experience when working with ethnically diverse and low-income populations. “Service for students of color, can also be helping White classmates learn about the communities where they serve and challenging their peers that White and middle class are not normative perspectives.” Therefore we “should not prepare students for service experiences from a place of fear or risk, but instead showcase the assets and strengths of the communities” and we should not frame the experience as “‘giving back’ or ‘giving to’ people less fortunate than ourselves.” 5

Diversity is one of the CCE’s two strategic priority areas so CCE staff serve on the President’s Diversity Council Opens in new tab.and Senate Diversity Subcommittee.Opens in new tab.

The CCE supports diversity-related service-learning and other community engagement by providing support to faculty as they develop their partnerships, assessment materials, and student reflective analysis activities. In particular we help faculty develop critical analysis activities that will intentionally assist students in integrating their service experience with the stated learning objectives. The CCE assists in developing relationships between the community engaged multicultural competence courses, scholarship and service.

All references available in the CCE Resource Library. Opens in new tab.

1Eyler, J., & Giles, D. E. (1999). Where's the learning in service-learning?Opens in new tab. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

2Jones, S. R., & Hill, K. (2001). Crossing high street: Understanding diversity through community service-learning.Opens in new tab.Journal of College Student Development, 42(3), 204-216.

3Marullo, S. (1998). Bringing home diversity: A service-learning approach to teaching race and ethnic relations.Opens in new tab.Teaching Sociology, 26, 259-275.

4Boyle-Baise, M. (Ed.). (2002). Multicultural service learning: Educating teachers in diverse communities.Opens in new tab.New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

5Mitchell, T.D. & Donahue, D.M. (2009). Paying Attention to the Reflections of Students of Color in Service-Learning in The Future of Service-Learning: New Solutions for Sustaining and Improving Practice,Opens in new tab.172-190.