LEARNING

Experiential Education

Many of the Bonner Scholars Program’s (BSP) resources and trainings are rooted in experiential learning. This methodology assumes that all learning takes place in an active environment where the participants are active doers and not passive receptors. Through experiential learning, Bonners gain knowledge and understanding, explore their own attitudes, see their skills in action, learn from each other, and validate their learning through structured experiences.

In experiential learning, the experience takes place in the world beyond the classroom through a community service project or related activity. The service experiences should:

  • Meet real community needs

  • Be coordinated between the community and the BSP

  • Be integrated into intellectual and cognitive areas of growth and practice for each individual

  • Provide structured time for individuals to reflect (through thinking, talking, or writing)

  • Enhance what is taught (and learned) by extending the learning environment beyond what we usually consider to be its “normal” limits

  • Ask participants to apply experience and knowledge of present circumstances to current needs

Student Development Model

The BSP uses a student developmental model that seeks to identify, develop, and integrate service passions, career interests, and academic pursuits. Because the Program is a multi-year commitment, students are challenged and supported to grow and develop into active citizens. As a result, students become more involved and take on additional responsibilities and leadership roles as they advance. The student development model has five stages that referred to as the 5Es:

1. Expectation

Students apply and prepare for participation in the program.

2. Explore

First year students are involved in a variety of nonprofit organizations and activities including short-term service trips.

3. Experience

In their second year, students are encouraged to focus on a particular issue within a single organization that enables them to fully experience the operations and mission of a particular agency and to develop a better understanding of community issues. This approach also offers agencies consistent and reliable support to help run and manage their programs.

4. Example

By the third year, students are expected to take on expanded roles and responsibilities both on campus and in their communities. For many, this initiative translates into leadership positions with a campus service organization and/or a community agency.

5. Expertise

Students are encouraged to integrate their academic pursuits and career interests with their service activities. As a result, some sociology majors become involved in research projects, English majors may write annual reports, and communications majors might assist with agencies’ public relations.

The 5Es framework is meant to provide a common challenge that can be applied in appropriate ways to every individual who participates, recognizing that students may enter into the Bonner Program at different stages of their college career and move through their development at different rates.  Because of students’ varying interests and rates of growth, Program staff on each campus spend time advising students through their tenure within the program.

The Common Commitments

After 10 years of developing Bonner Scholars/Leaders Programs nationally, the Bonner Foundation found it increasingly necessary to more clearly communicate its values, commitments, and vision to encourage students. The Common Commitments are the result of a year-long dialogue of members throughout the Bonner community—including students, faculty, administrators and community leaders. Six central values were defined through a collective process and include:

Civic Engagement

Participate intentionally as a citizen in the democratic process, actively engaging in public policy and direct service

International Perspective

Develop international understanding that enables Bonners to participate successfully in a global society

Social Justice

Advocate for fairness, impartiality, and equality while addressing systematic social and environmental issues

Community Building

Establish and sustain a vibrant community of place, personal relationships, and common interests

Diversity

Respect and engage the many different dimensions of diversity in our public lives

Spiritual Exploration

Explore personal beliefs while respecting the spiritual practices of others

CCE Learning Outcomes

1. The CCE helps students understand the ways that difference, privilege, and power work in their own lives and in our society.  Through their experiences in CCE programs students will develop:

  1. Their understanding of their own identities and backgrounds.

  2. Their understandings of identities and backgrounds different from their own

  3. Their understanding of the systemic forces that have shaped and continue to shape our different life experiences.

  4. Attitudes of curiosity and openness about others.

  5. Their capacity for empathy, learning to relate to and appreciate people different from themselves.

2. The CCE broadens and deepens students’ thinking about complex and interconnected social issues affecting our world today. Through participation in CCE programs students will:

  1. Strengthen their abilities to analyze complicated social issues.

  2. Connect and apply knowledge (facts, theories, etc.) from their areas of academic study to their own civic engagement experiences.

  3. Connect and apply knowledge from their civic engagement experiences back to their areas of study, using these experiences to comprehend, analyze, and /or challenge theories and frameworks.

3. The CCE prepares students for active citizenship. Through participation in CCE programs, students will:

  1. Clarify their civic identity.

  2. Develop and expand their understanding of and capacity for active participation in a community.

  3. Experience the personal benefits of forming reciprocal relationships in one’s community, including joy, fulfillment, and well-being.

4. The CCE prepares students for lives of active learning. Through CCE programs, students will:

  1. Practice self-motivated learning.

  2. Develop and demonstrate communication skills across a variety of settings.

  3. Practice professional skills and gain professional experiences needed to work in a variety of settings.

Curricula

Each class year has a curriculum that is unique and relevant to their level of engagement in BSP and in metro Richmond. Attendance at the components listed below is mandatory for fulfilling Program requirements.

During periods of class registration, it is important that Scholars be mindful of the days and times their community partners need volunteers. Class schedules should leave chunks of time for service. To facilitate this, Bonners participate in priority registration to register for classes early before their peers.

First Year Curriculum

Bonner 101

First years and Walk-Ons participate in an orientation program during their first semester called Bonner 101. During this orientation, students build community among their peers, learn about the mission, goals, and principles of the BSP, and explore different service organizations in Richmond before making a three-and-a-half year commitment to one agency. Bonner 101 begins in the fall semester with a two-day, overnight experience typically held the second weekend of classes.

Monthly Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend each month’s meeting. Monthly meetings focus on social issues in the context of Metropolitan Richmond.

Class Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend their class meetings. Each class meeting focuses on exploring the theme of membership in communities.

One-on-Ones

One-on-ones are held each semester. Bonners meet with their Bonner advisor (freshman and sophomore meet with the coordinator and juniors and seniors meet with the director) to discuss service, academics, and career goals. One meeting per semester is mandatory, but students are welcome to schedule additional meetings as needed.

Cornerstone: First Year Trip (FYT)

First Year Trip is held in the spring following the conclusion of semester exams.  First year Scholars and Bonner staff go on a 3-5 day service excursion to Washington D.C.

Sophomore Curriculum

Justice and Civil Society (JCS)

Justice & Civil Society, taught by the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, is a required course for all sophomore Bonners during the spring semester wherein students explore contemporary society and understandings of justice. The course includes readings on civil society, theories of justice, and analysis of poverty and related socio-economic problems. Also included in the course is community-based learning with critical reflection on community service to populations in need. Sophomores participate in this course during spring semester to provide academic connections to their Bonner work. Certain components of this course may count towards Bonner hours.

Monthly Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend each month’s meeting. Monthly meetings focus on social issues in the context of Metropolitan Richmond.

Class Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend their class meetings. Each class meeting focuses on exploring the theme of membership in communities.

One-on-Ones

One-on-ones are held each semester. Bonners meet with their Bonner advisor (freshman and sophomore meet with the coordinator and juniors and seniors meet with the director) to discuss service, academics, and career goals. One meeting per semester is mandatory, but students are welcome to schedule additional meetings as needed.

Cornerstone: Sophomore Exchange (SophEx)

SophEx is a 1-2 day cornerstone activity in which UR Bonners serve and learn with Bonners from other colleges and universities in Virginia. The goal of this event is to expose Bonners to the larger Bonner network and provide an opportunity for large-scale service planning, reflection, and networking.

Junior Curriculum

Monthly Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend each month’s meeting. Monthly meetings focus on social issues in the context of Metropolitan Richmond.

Class Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend their class meetings. Each class meeting focuses on exploring the theme of membership in communities.

One-on-Ones

One-on-ones are held each semester. Bonners meet with their Bonner advisor (freshman and sophomore meet with the coordinator and juniors and seniors meet with the director) to discuss service, academics, and career goals. One meeting per semester is mandatory, but students are welcome to schedule additional meetings as needed.

Cornerstone: Junior Journey (JJ)

During Junior Journey, juniors explore social issues in Richmond to reflect on their membership as an active leader in the community.

Senior Curriculum

Monthly Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend each month’s meeting. Monthly meetings focus on social issues in the context of Metropolitan Richmond.

Class Meetings

All Bonners are required to attend their class meetings. Each class meeting focuses on exploring the theme of membership in communities.

One-on-Ones

One-on-ones are held each semester. Bonners meet with their Bonner advisor (freshman and sophomore meet with the coordinator and juniors and seniors meet with the director) to discuss service, academics, and career goals. One meeting per semester is mandatory, but students are welcome to schedule additional meetings as needed.

Cornerstone: Presentations of Learning (POLs)

Presentations of Learning (POLs) have been a Bonner Center for Civic Engagement tradition for years at the University of Richmond, providing engaged learners an opportunity to share the impact of community engagement on their learning, growth, and development. For Bonner Scholars, it is the senior cornerstone activity, much like First Year Trip, Sophomore Exchange, and Junior Journey are the freshman, sophomore, and junior cornerstones respectively.

Walk-On Curriculum

The first year curriculum lays a strong foundation for a holistic Scholar experience.  Therefore, as an incoming Bonner, Walk-On Scholars follow the first year curriculum regardless of their graduating year. Walk-on Scholars can exclude Justice & Civil Society from their curriculum if they so choose.

After the first year in the Program, Walk-On Scholars follow the curriculum of their respective graduating class.

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