Sharing Service Learning with the World

“Even though Allegheny may be small, we have much to share with other universities around the world.”

— Amy Warnick

Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

It’s not that unusual for Allegheny faculty to involve students in their presentations at conferences—but it’s certainly less common for them to invite a student to another continent to collaborate. Psychology professor Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak did just that when she and student Amy Warnick presented papers on teaching ethics through service learning at a conference hosted by the Federal University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. With financial support from the Dean of the College, Ozorak and Warnick garnered international recognition for Allegheny’s innovative academic program.

Ozorak, also coordinator of the College’s Values, Ethics and Social Action (VESA) minor program, had presented at the conference the previous year and suggested to organizers that they would benefit from involving undergraduate students. When Ozorak was invited to return to the conference, she encouraged Warnick to submit a paper, which was in turn accepted. “This was a great opportunity for one of our students to experience different approaches to education and share ours at Allegheny with others,” says Ozorak.

Warnick—the conference’s only undergraduate presenter—discussed her experiences as a student in the VESA program. She contended in her paper that service learning not only fosters a sense of community and citizenship among students but also prepares them for the rigors of the real world.

Amy Warnick

Warnick also had the opportunity to respond to questions from and offer sugggestions to faculty members at European institutions still in the early stages of developing service-learning programs. “Being the only undergraduate to attend and present at the conference was initially intimidating,” she says. “However, my experiences at Allegheny and in the community, along with support from Professor Ozorak, helped me convey the benefits of service learning articulately.”

Ozorak notes that conference attendees had a difficult time believing that Warnick was an undergraduate. “They kept asking her what graduate program she was in,” says Ozorak. “Amy was a poised and confident ambassador for Allegheny. It was a gratifying experience.”

The conference also marked the beginning of a working relationship between Allegheny College and the Centre for Applied and Professional Ethics. Officials from the Federal University of Surrey visited Allegheny in spring 2006 to learn more about the College’s involvement in the community and the educational opportunities that it affords.

“Attending the conference showed me that even though Allegheny may be small,” says Warnick, “we have much to share with other universities around the world.”