“Moral issues, like global and local food insecurity, are not just abstract issues; they are practical problems with practical solutions. It is important not only to present the problems to students, but also to empower them with concrete actions they can take to help alleviate these problems. »
This is Mylan Engel, professor of philosophy at Northern Illinois University, in an interview with Engaged Philosophy (previously).
Professor Engel, who teaches courses in animal ethics, environmental ethics and food philosophy, among others, uses service learning in his teaching. He says:
Students in my “Food Philosophy” course are required to complete at least 21 hours of community service during the semester. Service activities include:
• Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children
• Planting seeds in NIU’s greenhouse
• Work in NIU’s community garden
• Preparation and sharing of a vegan dish during the end-of-semester sustainable dinner
In addition to the above activities, which we all do together as a class, students should identify a food-related problem/problem they are passionate about and spend at least 5 hours working on a project designed to address that problem. .
Students “gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the practical meaning of philosophy. They also gain a sense of empowerment” through work, says Professor Engel.
In this short video, he and his students talk about the benefits of this type of course:
You can read more about the service-learning projects and lessons Professor Engel uses in the full interview.
The Engaged Philosophy website is a useful resource for those wishing to incorporate service learning and civic engagement into their courses, with information on various service learning projects, sample curricula, other interviews, etc.
Do you use service-learning, civic engagement, or other hands-on projects in your philosophy classes? Let us know about them. Are you looking for how to use these educational tools for a particular philosophical subject? Let’s listen to it. Discussion welcome.