Ferrum College has long lived by the motto “Not Self, But Others.” Nowhere is this more evident than in Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration Ed Hally’s Citizenship and Service Learning class held this spring. This class, listed in the College’s catalog as PSC 399, is an introduction to the interplay of theory and practice relevant to students in political science. Students are expected to acquire practical experiences resulting from a community-based civic education or service-learning project.
The topics and projects in the class are primarily driven by what the current class is interested in studying, which makes it difficult for Hally to plan this course in advance. Early in the semester, students research a cause near and dear to their hearts and devise a presentation for their classmates. The class votes on the projects they feel will be the most impactful, accessible, and fun.
This year, the PSC 399 students voted to raise money on behalf of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the Miracle League, and SARA Roanoke (Sexual Assault Response and Awareness). Although Hally would often coordinate the behind-the-scenes logistics of contacting these organizations, purchasing supplies, and room reservations, the students did all the heavy lifting by planning and running the events themselves.
A cup pong fundraiser and a three-point tournament were organized to benefit the Miracle League, an association that helps children with disabilities play baseball. A color run was organized to benefit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. A Krispy Kreme donut sale on campus benefitted SARA Roanoke, and speaker Dina Hackley-Hunt spoke with students about sexual violence. The PSC 399 students raised over $800 total for the three organizations.
Hally noted the key to a successful service-learning project is that it has to be student-driven. He reflected that he has never had a class keep him busier, but he also has never been as proud of what they were able to accomplish. “People often view politics negatively because all they see is the partisan bickering taking place in Washington and on cable news outlets. But the main lesson I’ve tried to get across to my students this semester is that politics isn’t JUST about what happens within government – it’s also a political act to serve your community with love and grace. Individual acts of service, whether required for a class or not, are a more valuable political currency than what plays out in the halls of power. And I can’t think of a better example of “Not Self,But Others.”
To see additional pictures of the PSC 399 events, please click here.