Academic Service-learning(ASL) at Concordia University – Portland is the application of academic skills and knowledge to address a community need, issue, or problem and to enhance student learning. Service-learning helps integrate three core values of Concordia University's mission – Lutheran, Rigor, and Servant Leadership. Through Academic Service Learning, students have the opportunity to put that hands and feet to Concordia's mission and begin taking the first steps to becoming the next leaders who will transform society.
Concordia University – Portland ascribes to Bringle & Hatcher's (1995) definition of academic service-learning: "a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs, and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility."
In ASL credit is not given simply for completing service hours, but for the learning that takes place. ASL differs from community service, internships, or field study experiences because the service activity is connected to the course learning goals through reflection and critical analysis, and seeks to balance the benefits to the student with benefits to the community partners.
ASL activities engage and partner with the community, whether local, state-wide or international; thus, the service activities should respond to community – identified needs, and the community should have a voice in the design and implementation of the service activity. In many cases, the community partner becomes a co-educator, and valuing this community knowledge and expertise is helpful in sustaining collaborative partnerships.