Service Learning in the Philippines
Travel Dates: April 22-May 13
Instructors: Kathleen S. Jagger, Dan S. Selter
Number of Students Enrolled: 14
Location: Philippines

Course Description

In partnership with local communities on Mactan Island in the Philippines, students will conduct service projects focused on public health and education infrastructure concerns.

Prior to departure, students will study Filipino history, culture, and current events to develop a context for the service experience. While on site, they will research various aspects of Filipino life, and upon returning to campus, will present papers that draw on their reading, research, and project experiences.

Course Goals

  • Further leadership skills by allowing students to experience the role of “servant-leader.”
  • Encourage students to examine the role of service to others in the global community.
  • Increase student awareness of the needs of individuals in underserved communities.
  • Help students develop the ability to live in a diverse group and without familiar comforts, in order to learn the cooperation and compromise that team building requires.
  • Promote in students, via cultural exchange, an investigation of what it means to be a global citizen in a modern world with complex challenges.
  • Help students acquire knowledge and understanding of Philippine culture through both preliminary research and discussion with community members of the service site.
  • Provide an experiential framework through which students are encouraged to reflect on their personal values, motivations, and commitments as well as broader issues such as distributive justice.
  • Work with members of a community in need toward sustainable, holistic improvements that reflect the values of the community served.

Student Leadership

A key component of the course will be the involvement of students in a variety of class officer positions such as project coordinator, secretary, photographer, education team leader, and public health team leader.

These officers will have important responsibilities in organizing, coordinating, and documenting group activities, both before and during travel.


Grading for this course will be CR/NC. Credit will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of the following course components:

Attendance and Participation

Most of May term will be spent at the service site, and most of your participation grade will depend on your active involvement with service projects and daily reflection exercises. Under these exceptional class circumstances, living and working in unfamiliar and sometimes difficult situations, the quality of your participation will also be evidenced by your contributions to successful team comradeship.

Students are expected to attend all preliminary Winter term meetings and all pre-travel and post-travel classes meetings during May term. In the case of some legitimate cause for absence, you must notify one of your instructors prior to the class meeting.

Your class participation grade will be based on the quality of your contributions to class in the form of questions, comments, and discussion. To be adequately prepared, you should take notes and jot down questions as you read the assigned materials.

Current Events and Language

The first 15 minutes of pre-travel classes will be dedicated to current events and language in the Philippines. We will discuss news events featured in Filipino papers (electronic links are listed in this syllabus). We will also try to learn some basic Cebuano, the dialect used in the Cebu area.


You will be expected to maintain a daily journal of your activities, personal reflections, and research findings. This journal will be submitted for review at the end of the term.

Research Proposal, Final Presentation, and Research Paper

A research topic must be chosen before departure for the service site. Research findings should be recorded in your journal and summarized in a paper that you will write when we return to campus. This paper will be submitted at the time of your 10-15 minute presentation during one of the last two days of classes.

Readings, Films, Electronic References

  • "In Our Image," three-part videotape series on Philippine history
  • "Brown River, White Ocean," an anthology of short stories and poems, Luis H. Francia, editor
  • "Noli me Tangere," a novel by Jose Rizal
  • "Jose Rizal: Life, Works, and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist, and National Hero," by Gregorio F. Zaide and Sonia M. Zaide

Electronic References:

Filipino newspapers:

http://www.thefreeman.com (Cebu paper)


http://economist.com (Economic profiles of most nations available)
http://www.tribo.org/bookshop/toc.html (The Filipino Book Barn)
http://www.feer.com (Far Eastern Economic Review)