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UIC Barcelona takes part in the 11th National and 5th International University Service Learning Congress
From 25 to 27 January the UAB-Casa Convalescència hosted the national and international conference on university service learning (ApS), organised by the twelve Catalan universities. UIC Barcelona actively participated in the congress, attended by nearly 300 participants – including teachers, students and academic institutions – and about 200 posters and papers were presented. Three lecturers from the Faculty of Education Sciences, Maite Fuertes, Mariona Graell and Mariana Fuentes were part of the organising committee of the congress. The rectors of the Catalan universities participated in the opening day, and UIC Barcelona rector Alfonso Méndiz gave a speech.
Does Service Learning (ApS) transform the community? Is it a catalyst for teaching innovation? Does it pose changes in perspective and new ethical dilemmas to researchers? These are just some of the questions that the 11th National and 5th International University Service Learning Congress addressed. The congress was organised by the twelve Catalan universities through the ApSUCAT Network including UIC Barcelona, and took place from 25 to 27 January at the UAB-Casa Convalescència (Barcelona).
Service learning is an educational proposal through which students are trained by participating in a project aimed at solving the real needs of a community to improve the living conditions of people or the quality of the environment. Nearly 300 participants including teachers, students and academic institutions took part in this year’s edition where 200 posters and papers were presented. This year the focus of the congress was on the assessment the university impact that ApS projects have on those involved.
The rectors of the Catalan universities participated in the opening day on Wednesday, 26 January, and UIC Barcelona rector Alfonso Méndiz gave a speech. Méndiz explained to the attendees that “at UIC Barcelona, university service learning was introduced in 2008, developing teaching projects and generating several research projects and doctoral theses. What began as a community service experience is now included as one of the training activities in our curriculum and is offered as social responsibility research.”
During the congress, the University presented some of its projects on university service learning: the collaboration with the Casal dels Infants of Raval and Badalona organisation; projects to promote reading or empower women in rural areas of Guatemala; and the AIDIR Unit in Ciutat Vella, the social responsibility cooperative promoted by the Department of Nursing that is committed to the health service of the neighbourhood population.
The nature of ApS meant that although a primarily scientific congress, students and educational institutions played a leading role. On Thursday 26 January there were team working sessions between teachers, institutions, students and technical staff of university service learning to reflect on the different roles in the projects and seek innovative strategies to improve their impact.
The congress has the support of the Department of Universities of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Barcelona City Council and the Ministry of Universities.