Community Service-Learning in WGS

CSL, or Community Service Learning, is an exciting learning opportunity for students who are interested in making connections between scholarship and activism. When a student registers in a WGS class with a CSL option, they will work with the CSL program to coordinate a volunteer placement that will relate to academic work in the WGS classroom.

Students who elect to take the CSL component of a WGS class will reflect upon their volunteer opportunities in the context of scholarly literature and debates. These course-based community learning experiences provide opportunities for the development of active citizenship and career-based skills, including leadership, organization, and research.

Courses often offered with an optional CSL component include:

  • WGS 101: Representations of Girls and Women
  • WGS 102: Gender and Social Justice
  • WGS 380: Canadian Feminist Activisms
  • WGS 431: Feminism and Sexual Assault

Students in these classes have volunteered with a range of Edmonton social justice organizations, including:

Comments From Past CSL Students

Alana Cabana

"CSL as a part of Women's [& Gender] Studies has enabled me to garner a greater grasp on overall course concepts as the experiences I have gained through course specific volunteer opportunities have allowed me to greater connect lived realities to the theoretical propositions.

"Furthermore, the CSL component within a course has brought me into areas of the community of which I would not normally be involved in, and has subsequently fostered a grassroots involvement with an increased connection and understanding of the community in which I live."

Megan Stewart

"I love CSL for many reasons, but I think the biggest reason is that you get to make relationships… you have to engage in people and you have to talk to people, I think that's really the spirit of learning is making those relationships."

Megan, an avid volunteer in high school, was "kinda sad coming to U of A cause I was worried that other than doing SU I wouldn't have much to get engaged with." However, her very first university class had a CSL component which laid the foundation. She highlights that "CSL teaches you that you're filling a need, but why is that need there? What power structures are embedded in you being a volunteer? It really just opened up my eyes."

How has CSL influenced her personal or academic life?

"It has definitely influenced both. When you learn about CSL and it's something so personal and you are encouraged to reflect, I think you carry that reflection with you wherever you're going outside of the U of A, in the friendships you have, how you talk to you family members, and just interact with other people as well. As for academics, especially being in sociology, you are encouraged to deconstruct this power relation that is embedded in all our systems. So it just gives you a new perspective on that."

Where has CSL taken her?

"To being happy that there was something other than SU. I took some more CSL classes and that led me to the Certificate in Community Engagement and Service-Learning and then that certificate led me to another certificate (Global Citizenship) - it's just so representative of CSL in that one things leads to the next."

Sam Kriviak

"As part of my Women's Studies degree [Department of Women's and Gender Studies as of January 1, 2013], I had the opportunity to get involved with the Community Service-Learning program, completing three placements before I graduated in 2011. In my first Women's Studies class I had my first CSL placement - it was with Adamant Eve, Edmonton's feminist radio show that airs on the Campus radio station CJSR.

"I had never had any desire to work in radio, and in fact was terrified of public speaking, but three years after that placement I have now been the producer of Adamant Eve for a year and a half (as well as the show's CSL mentor). I am completing an internship as the National Coordinator of GroundWire, a national alternative news radio program, and I am currently looking for work in community radio with some promising opportunities on the horizon.

"Not only has my CSL placement brought me unexpected career options, but it has also provided me with an awesome feminist community and countless opportunities to learn more about feminist topics and issues as well as participate in more feminist activism."