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ERIC Number: EJ824501
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Nov
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Keeping the Academics in Service Learning Projects, or Teaching Environmental History to Tree Planters
Stemen, Mark
History Teacher, v37 n1 p73-78 Nov 2003
In California, and elsewhere, faculty are being encouraged to create "service learning opportunities" for their students, such as having social work students volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or having environmental studies students reforest the local watershed. While these endeavors have obvious social value, their education value suffers if students are unable to make connections between their projects and their academic work. Environmental studies programs are notorious for such disconnected activities. Tree planting is a classic example of a service learning project with little actual learning. Reforesting a degraded riparian corridor is a worthwhile pursuit and it connects people to a place, but what are students "learning" academically when they are planting trees? Well, if one frames it correctly, they can learn quite a lot. This essay describes the author's efforts to keep the scholarship in a local restoration project by connecting history and restoration ecology. The author says that their efforts are a great service to many members of the watershed ecosystem and his students engage in a unique learning opportunity as they wrestle with the many facets of "restoring nature." (Contains 8 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California