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Shared Spaces

Hugh Floyd (right)
Photo by Al Fuchs

Oberlin Choir Conductor Hugh Floyd (right), a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, shared the Finney Chapel stage in November with Eastman Chorale Conductor William Weinert, a 1976 graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory. The Oberlin and Eastman choirs performed several works together while paying tribute to the late famed conductor Robert Fountain, a longtime professor of singing and choral conducting at Oberlin and a 1942 Eastman graduate.

A Grant to Serve
by Yvonne Gay Fowler

Thanks to a substantial grant awarded to the College's Center for Service and Learning, Oberlin's practice of community service will reach all new heights.

While other U.S. colleges and universities spend an average of 11.8 percent of their Federal Work-Study funds on community service jobs, Oberlin spends nearly twice as much–22 percent–a figure only expected to climb.

Currently, Oberlin students with work-study status can choose to work either on campus or at one of 20 off-campus non-profits, such as Kendal at Oberlin, The Bridge (Oberlin's Community Technology Center), or America Reads. The Learn and Serve America grant–worth $90,808–will allow for the sustainable growth of such sites, and also enable students to serve as teaching assistants in courses such as sociology or environmental studies that extend learning into the community.

"We try to integrate students' majors with their duties," says Anne Fuller, executive director of the city's Oberlin Community Services (OCS), which places 60 students each year in math tutoring programs, food distribution centers, reading and computer education programs, and as office workers. The organization has utilized students for the past 20 years, long before the College's own community service/work-study program became official, and many have gone on to careers in law, advocacy, and social work.

Many Oberlin students with work-study funds opt to take jobs at off-campus community service sites, where tasks range from office work to the distribution of food to underprivileged residents.
Photo by John Seyfried
Funding from the LSA grant will also provide mini-grants to faculty members wishing to revise or create new community- based learning courses. A Monuments in Memory seminar, for example, taught by Assistant Professor of Art History Erik Inglis, received partial funding from the Center for Service and Learning for students to inventory local monuments for Oberlin's Historical and Improvement Organization. Funding was also awarded to Assistant Professor of History Daryl Maeda, whose students work with an organization that documents testimonies of Japanese American survivors of concentration camps.

"Community-based learning encourages students to make connections between coursework and pressing social issues, and it can help them sharpen their discussion, writing, and critical thinking skills as well," says Beth Blissman, director of the Center for Service and Learning. "We expect that even more faculty will be interested in linking campus and community, and we look forward to supporting those who wish to integrate community engagement into their teaching and research."

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