European Association for Public Administration Accreditation

International project SLIHE at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica
Since September 2017, Matej Bel University has been the coordinator of the international project "Service Learning in Higher Education - Supporting the Third Mission of Universities and the Civil Engagement of Students". The project is funded by the European Union Erasmus + programme and will be implemented over a period of 3 years.

The project builds on the current thinking of universities about their roles in today's society and the relationships between their constituent parts, institutions and the community. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions in fulfilling their third mission and to increase the civic involvement of students through the implementation of an innovative service learning strategy in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. The role of higher education institutions in the development of communities and regions, in addressing local and socio-economic problems and their active contribution to the development of civil society, is becoming increasingly accentuated and necessary. To take up this role and to support civic engagement and social responsibility in employment and on the student body is not a simple matter for the "traditional" higher education institutions when seen as centres of science, research and education. Many of them are still not open to cooperation with public and non-governmental organizations in the region in which they operate and do not have sufficiently developed capacities to engage in addressing local, regional or national challenges and problems.

The project builds on the experience and expertise of partners from six EU countries (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Germany and Austria and two non-EU countries (Argentina and Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the implementation of service learning strategy. The key activities of the project consist in the creation, testing and dissemination of innovative outputs (training for teachers and trainers' manuals, teacher manuals and a set of examples of good practice) that can be used not only during the project implementation but also after its completion for the development and dissemination of the service strategy learning in and outside the university institutions, supporting the social roles of universities and increasing the civic engagement of students.

The first transnational project meeting took place on 23-24.10. 2017 at Universitaet fuer Weiterbildung in Krems (Austria). During the meeting, participants exchanged their previous experience with service learning and set up a joint action plan for the following months.

The project will have an impact not only on the participating organizations, and teaching and student bodies, but also on local communities - enhancing cooperation between different actors in addressing diverse issues, i.e. between a civil society, citizens and universities. The project is another step towards building a service learning strategy at Matej Bel University, to interdisciplinary cooperation, but also a network of service learning institutions at European level.

More information about the project will be published on www.servicelearning.umb.sk

doc. PhDr. Alžbeta Brozmanová Gregorová, PhD., Faculty of Education
doc. Ing. Mária Murray Svidroňová, PhD., Faculty of Economics
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