Phil 206-01:
Philosophy of Life and Death
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Service Learning Guidelines

Spring 2010

The service-learning requirement is intended to help students make the sometimes difficult or obscure transition between course material and 'real life.'  In short, it should help establish an atmosphere of exploration and reflection that goes beyond a purely academic analysis of concepts and theories.

Process and Procedure:
Service-learning is coordinated and monitored by the Center for Social Responsibility and Community . Your first step is to visit their office (101C Alumni Hall) to become familiar with their activities and to explore some of the many service-learning opportunities available to you. If you have an idea for a service-learning project beyond the ones they suggest, discuss it with them. Chances are that the staff of the Center will be be able to assist you in making that idea a reality.

Once you have identified the project(s) in which you will be involved, complete a service learning agreement ( for my approval (signed by both you and the Director of the Center for Social Responsibility, Linda Drake). 

You will need Time sheets to keep track of your hours and to ensure that you receive proper credit for your work (available at the Center as well as on the web: Time sheets must be signed by you as well as your site supervisor, then turned in to me. I will forward the sheets to CSRC so that your service can documented there as well.

Because the requirement is intended to stimulate cognitive processes, you are also required to write two reflection papers concerning your experiences (due March 11 and May 13).

Questions and Answers:
Q: Where can I get help deciding what kind of project I should do?
A: The Center for Social Responsibility and Community (101C Alumni Hall).

Q: How many hours of community service are required?
A: 25

Q: Do we have to complete the entire service-learning requirement by March 11?
A: No.

Q: Do we have to divide our time into two equal segments, completing half by March 11 and the other half by May 13?
A: No.  You should, however, complete a minimum of 5 hours of service during each of the two segments.

Q: Is it best to do it all at once?
A: Circumstances differ, but I generally encourage students to spread their service-learning activity throughout the semester. 

Q: What if my project(s) require more than 25 hours of community service?
A: For each hour of approved community service completed beyond the course requirement, students will receive 1/4 extra credit point (maximum of 10 points). 

Q: What do I need to turn in on March 11?
A: (i) Time sheets for the community service that you have completed by that point in time, plus (ii) a 3-4 page reflection paper concerning your experiences to date.

Q: What do I need to turn in on May 13?
A: (i) Time sheets for the community service that you have completed between 3/11 and 5/13, plus (ii) a 5-7 page reflection paper concerning your experiences throughout the class.

Q: Should our reflection papers include discussion of our texts?
A: That would be appropriate, but is not a strict requirement as such. The reflection papers are a way of getting you to THINK about the complex social, emotional, and philosophical web of interconnections between individual selves and the communities in which we live (rather than approaching the requirement as a matter of “serving time”). Both of your first two texts spend considerable time talking about the importance of being involved in the lives of others. Consider, for example, the following quotes.

“The way to get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie, p. 43.

“If you want to bring pleasure into your life, first be a person who brings great pleasure into life – and into someone else’s life.” Paul Pearsall, The Pleasure Prescription, p. 50.

Philosophy at Oneonta
Site constructed and maintained by
Douglas Shrader / Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy
Originally Posted: January 18, 2010
Revised: January 18, 2010