FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Andrea Woodward, Associate Professor of Social Sciences and current Service-Learning Faculty Fellow.
“Service-learning is relevant, helpful, and it keeps everyone in tune with what is happening,”
Service-learning is an educational approach that incorporates community service with the learning objectives to meet societal needs in the community.“If you are teaching something that has direct relevance to a community that could use help, then why not tie it into the learning?” Dr. Andrea Woodward, Associate Professor of Social Sciences and current Service-Learning Faculty Fellow at Berea College said. Throughout her career of teaching, scholarship, and service, Woodward has incorporated service-learning into her classes so students can relate what they are studying to what is happening in the world. “If it meets a need in the community and helps someone learn, it just makes sense,” Woodward said.
Woodward first sparked a love for service-learning when she worked for the National Service-Learning Clearing House during her graduate school years. She defines herself as a hands-on learner, which is why she finds service-learning impactful to her students, “service-learning is relevant, helpful, and it keeps everyone in tune with what is happening,” Woodward said.
In her classes, Woodward discusses topics such as social change and social services that get students involved with civic engagement. She encourages students to find and research issues that are up for discussion, also offering an optional assignment to write a letter to the state legislature discussing the topic. One semester, students voluntarily rallied at the Kentucky State Capitol during their spring break to protect the Family Resource Centers in Kentucky. “Students got to work with the organization, research it, and then advocate for them, and then see their voice be heard.” Woodward said, “It was such an empowering experience for students.”
Woodward was recently recognized with the Elizabeth Perry Miles Award for Community Service. This award is given annually to a member of the Berea College General Faculty who has “performed outstanding community service that is above and beyond the nominee’s usual job.” Dr. Woodward’s community-engaged teaching, scholarship, and service work were celebrated when she was presented with the award at Berea College’s Fall 2020 Re-Opening Convocation.