Singapore University of Social Sciences

Learning with Communities

Learning with Communities (NIE301)


Communities are complex, since their constituents (well, the humans) have such diverse needs and interests, which are increasingly polarised in current times. This makes community issues even more complex. Service-learning provides much needed experiential learning lens to unpack this complexity in navigating responsible action for collective good. Tapping on multiple perspectives to gain new insights; the experiential learning approach applies these insights to make tangible community-prioritised impact so that theory illuminates and informs experience, and experience lends meaning and energy to translate theory into practice and vice versa. This course enables learners to contribute to collective impact through a service-learning collaboration with one or more community partners. Through a real-world context, learners will be facilitated through progressive phases of co-constructing and experiencing a community change process - from engaging and learning with relevant partners, understanding the opportunities and context on the ground to proposing and implementing a technique to engage with the community. At the end of the course, students will be able to co-create, implement and co-evaluate reciprocal community change initiatives in collaboration with diverse stakeholders, equipped with the experience, skills and values to continue to learn through practice and critical reflection on what it means to do good well as a way of life. Please note that the course span over 2 semesters (grades will be released at the end of the following Semester).

Level: 3
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY REGULAR SEMESTER


  • Principles and key elements of service-learning
  • Community partnership models
  • Reflective practice for self and community: the critical reflection model in Service-Learning
  • Perspective taking, and effective communication
  • Service-Learning collaboration-specific topic
  • Service-Learning collaboration-specific topic for understanding community-prioritised impact
  • Community partner-specific topic for partnership engagement
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Applying systems thinking
  • Pillars of sustainability
  • Theory of change
  • Managing goals and objectives with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-Related) targets and indicators

Learning Outcome

  • Examine complex environment via a multi-stakeholder lens
  • Differentiate approaches to understanding service-learning impact
  • Demonstrate S-L practice principles and personal effectiveness for sustainable impact
  • Apply expertise/knowledge to co-develop initiatives that can serve the community in meaningful ways
  • Verify the personal/group social impact of the initiative.
  • Formulate personal philosophy on social responsibility and personal effectiveness.
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