Hands-on skill development, civic insight, and value creation for the community serve as the hallmark of service-learning at Mercer University. Through a service-learning curriculum, students across the University have a unique opportunity to achieve their learning objectives, meet needs in the community, and have an impactful learning experience.
The service-learning coursework of Mercer’s Center for the Study of Narrative (CSN) stems from a tradition of narrative theory and narrative therapy/counseling. Narrative theory is a multidisciplinary effort to understand how stories help people make sense of the world and how people make sense of stories. Narrative therapy/counseling emphasizes how one’s life can be changed through storytelling and re-telling. Through skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments, and abilities, people can reduce the influence of problems in their lives by re-authoring their stories. While Mercer’s service-learning initiative does not involve formal counseling or psychological interventions, we believe participants receive a significant emotional benefit when someone takes the time to listen to their story.
Mercer offers service-learning opportunities through a variety of counseling courses such as Lifespan Development. Students may conduct interviews and create digital narratives to share with the interviewees. Examples of other service-learning opportunities include the Coastal Georgia Heritage Research Initiative led by Dr. Melanie Pavich. Through this project, students interview African American descendants of Harrington School graduates living on St. Simons Island, Georgia.