National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Innovations in Undergraduate Research and Honors Education: Proceedings of the Second Schreyer National Conference 2001, ed. Josephine M. Carubia & Renata S. Engel. Copyright © 2004 The National Collegiate Honors Council.


This paper discusses a model for a three-part service-learning course developed by the Schreyer Honors College and Department of Geography at Penn State. Piloted during the spring, summer, and fall semesters of 2001, "Geography 298H--Experiences in International Service Learning: Juarez, Mexico" was designed to engage participants in a meaningful community development project while learning about the conditions, challenges, and prospects of a specific world region. After a semester of background preparation that included discussions with faculty members across many disciplines and team research resulting in a l48-page field guide, participating students traveled to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where they constructed a single-family home for recent migrants to the area. The students maintained written and photographic journals during the trip and submitted excerpts upon their return. During the fall semester, the class reconvened for several sessions of reflection and discussion; assignments comprised writing addenda to the field guide, editorials on some aspect of the trip that would be appropriate for publication in campus or hometown newspapers, and an open-ended evaluation of the experience. Throughout the process, students built leadership skills through networking, fundraising, and making presentations to school students and civic groups in their home communities. The course is serving as a model for other service learning projects, notably "Geography 297H-Experiences in International Service Learning: HOINA, India" and "Architectural Engineering 297H: Tribal Housing."