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UCstudents engaged for 80,000 hours in community service

University of Canterbury students engaged for 80,000 hours in community service learning in 2015

During 2015 UC students have engaged in more than 80,000 hours of learning through academic experiences in community-based settings around Canterbury, New Zealand and abroad, in Thailand, Rarotonga and Vanuatu.

The Director of the UC Community Engagement Hub, Associate Professor Billy O’Steen, believes that the University of Canterbury is a leader among the world’s universities in promoting community engagement as an academic opportunity for all its students.

“By creating opportunities for students to learn by applying practical solutions that address societal needs, students can see firsthand how their studies are relevant to real world and real-time problems,” Dr O’Steen says.

As evidence of this community-based leadership, UC will host the third New Zealand Community Engagement Summit in Christchurch on 8 December.

Meredith Warner, an American student studying at UC, describes her experience in the community-based course CHCH101: Rebuilding Christchurch as inspirational.

“Working alongside so many people from so many different communities really inspired me in the sense that I could potentially use what I've learned in my business undergraduate degree to help rebuild a city that now means so much to me,” Ms Warner says. “This especially came to light as I worked alongside my other wonderful team members to collect data for a CERA project.”

Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr has highlighted the fact that community engagement is one of the four attributes in UC’s graduate profile, along with employability, global awareness and bicultural competence.

Dr Carr says, “Mastering the area of study which a student has chosen to pursue remains a core mission for all our students, but developing these attributes ensures our graduates are best prepared to make a difference in the world.”

Associate Professor O’Steen says that while students’ contributions to the community are important, “UC students are also seeing how research and reflection can advance our knowledge in how we enhance our communities as better places to live, learn and earn”.

“In so doing, they acquire highly sought after employability skills such as critical thinking, cultural awareness, and teamwork.”


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