Promoting Community Engagement in the Classroom
INTEL supports experiential and community-based learning beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. We work with the office of Community Service to promote partner relationships spanning the wide variety of our VWU "classrooms,” and into the community.
Modeling On-campus Experiential Learning
The VWU Winter On-Campus Homeless Shelter, established in 2007, pre-dates INTEL. However, the Shelter has now become integrated with INTEL activities. The shelter serves the homeless in our community, raises awareness about homelessness, and reflects VWU’s mission. The award-winning project has garnered national attention for homelessness, and stands as a model of student-initiated action and service-learning. It has been the subject of numerous academic publications and conference presentations, many involving student authors. "Winter Shelter, On Campus", a 16-minute documentary film that captures the unique relationship between college students and the homeless, showcases the long-standing college-community partnership between VWU and Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless. The film presents a sheltering model for other colleges and universities to consider. Students in the 2017 winter session course were partnered with three different emergency homeless shelters in surrounding cities and experienced a meaningful service learning environment.
Celebrating Community Engagement
INTEL promotes community engagement in the classroom and works with the Office of Community Service to celebrate community engagement course experiences through the Day One newsletter. INTEL also reaches out to educate faculty and offer training on community engagement, volunteering and service learning. Representatives from area churches, schools, civic leagues, businesses, police, recreation and city services are invited to work together with VWU faculty, staff, students, and alumni to facilitate mutually beneficial partnering opportunities. As an active participant in strengthening our communities, VWU also participates in a range of neighborhood activities including service activities, tutoring programs and more.
The Readings With Wesleyan program brings free college-level teaching to residents of surrounding areas. The VWU program evolved from the idea of the Clemente Project for the Humanities, a program that brings college-level teaching of Humanities to people living in underserved communities.