This project will support the creation of effective cross-curricula service-learning and civic engagement centres in Jordan and Lebanon through utilising the specialist expertise and resources of each of the partner universities. There are five universities in these countries, led and co-ordinated by the Hashemite University in Zarqa, located in central Jordan. The other Jordanian universities are Zarqa Private University and Al al-Baytt University. The two Lebanese Universities are the American University in Beirut and the University of Balamand in Tripoli.
The overall purpose of the project is to build capacity and infrastructure to deliver programmes of service-learning across the curriculum in higher education, focussing specifically but not exclusively on those areas of curriculum reform need identified by the region and the national ministries of education viz. education, environmental sciences, health sciences, human rights, technology and engineering. Ours is an approach to the modernisation of curricula that concentrates on knowledge relevance, application, use and reflection rather than on the simple updating of curricular content. It is our view that a student's understanding of their discipline is deepened and made more palpable through service-learning and other forms of civic and community engagement.
The emphasis of this approach is on application, reflection, practical engagement, learning by doing, civic participation, and working with local communities. It is important to understand that service-learning differs from conventional work placements where employability is the justification. Although employability is an important outcome in service-learning it is subservient to community engagement, reflective learning and academic study.
These centres will be part of a process of rolling-out service-learning, as a methodology, across these countries and the region as a whole. They will provide the location of expertise to help with curriculum development, quality, standards and credit frameworks, the development of learning resources and the training and education of relevant staff. These centres will be responsible for, with support from the EU universities, the production of service-learning courses and programmes that work at undergraduate and postgraduate levels across a range of disciplines.