Experiential Learning & Community Engagement

Director: Angie Schmidt Whitney
Assistant Director: Laura Hammond
Bonner/Service-Learning Coordinator: Adia Zeman

The Office of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement supports programs that empower CSB/SJU students to integrate and apply knowledge and theory gained in the classroom setting to a hands-on learning environment, such that a deeper understanding is gained and demonstrated through clear learning outcomes. The Office brings together students, faculty members, businesses, non-profit organizations and government partners to promote access to mutually beneficial partnerships through experiential learning opportunities. Five distinct programs are administered through the Office of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement. They include:

The Bonner Leader Program
The Bonner Leader Program is a national service-scholarship program committed to providing students with access to education through the opportunity to serve in the community. Created in 1989 at Berea College in Kentucky, the Bonner Program has grown to include over 80 schools across the country. CSB/SJU joined the Bonner network in 2008 and hosted its first class of students in the fall of 2009.

Students involved in the program receive a scholarship, in addition to a work-study position within the Central Minnesota community. Bonner Program participants also take part in bi-monthly meetings focused on leadership development and social justice, as well as engage in service activities both on and off-campus.

The College of St. Benedict Marie and Robert Jackson Fellowship
The College of St. Benedict, through the Office of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement, offers nine to ten student fellowships each summer for full-time civic engagement projects. These paid fellowships relate to public policy and/or community service and are hosted by off-campus organizations in Minnesota and South Dakota. The diversity of the site placements and the type of work and leadership required from each Jackson Fellow serves to create a rich, vibrant, and holistic learning environment.

All fellowships involve civic engagement or work devoted to improving community life or the common good through political or non-political activities. Twice per month, throughout the duration of the summer fellowship, the Jackson Fellows cohort meets with the Program's Co-Directors (Angie Schmidt Whitney and Matt Lindstrom). These bi-monthly seminars include discussion of students' on-site experiences, leadership training, guest lectures from community and state leaders, and study tours to current fellowship sites.

Internship Program

Internships provide students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and learn new skills, explore a profession, apply and test theories and methods learned in the classroom and develop a working knowledge of an organization's structure and operations. Following an internship, a student is often considered qualified for an entry-level professional position.

Students may earn academic credits during their internship experience, or they may complete an internship without earning credits. Currently, students from a variety of academic majors earn credits while interning at sites in Minnesota, throughout the United States, and internationally. Internships may be scheduled during the academic semesters or the summer.

Internships for credit involve a three-way partnership between the student, the academic institution, and the internship site. Students typically spend ten to sixteen weeks in an appropriate setting, including businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

To earn academic credits for an internship, students must fulfill the prerequisites established by each academic department and develop an individualized learning plan in consultation with a faculty moderator. Students planning to earn credits are required to attend a Legal and Professional Issues session before registering for internship credits. Information about this session can be found on the Internship website calendar (www.csbsju.edu/internship). The Internship Office and the Internship Program website can also provide information about available internship opportunities and answers to questions about registration for internship credits.

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community or public service with intentional reflection and critical thinking. The Service-Learning Program engages students in working towards positive, sustainable change in the community, while enhancing their own education. These experiences or projects are initiated by faculty who integrate this innovative pedagogy into one or more of their courses.

Students demonstrate what they have learned through research and essay papers, journals, and class participation. Faculty members assess a student's learning through one or more of these methods. Most importantly, students benefit by experiencing first-hand the theories and concepts taught within the classroom. Students also experience benefits beyond academic development. Benefits include increased understanding of diversity, increased awareness of social issues, increased civic responsibility, and increased development of critical thinking skills.

Undergraduate Research
The CSB/SJU Undergraduate Research Program supports student-faculty collaborative scholarship in all disciplines. More specifically, the program offers grants to students engaged in research or creative works, supports student travel to local/national meetings and conferences, and coordinates a Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Additionally, the Undergraduate Research Program hosts the institutions' annual Scholarship & Creativity Day. This day-long, on-campus event is held each spring to celebrate and raise awareness about the scholarly work completed by students and faculty. The event is open to the greater community and features key-note speakers in addition to panels, oral presentations, performances, exhibits, and poster sessions.

Community Kitchen

Community Kitchen seeks to integrate the campus and community to increase access to high quality and nutritious food through a multifaceted, innovative approach to alleviating food insecurity with an emphasis on rural Stearns county. Our meal-delivery program utilizes surplus food on campus and in the community as a catalyst for education, collaboration, and community action.

ELCE Scholarships & Fellowships

The Office of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement facilitates a variety of scholarships and fellowships. These opportunities are available for both CSB and SJU students. 

Lindmark Fellowship: The Lindmark Fellowship in Professional Ethics is available to two Saint John's juniors to complete a full-time, 10-week, on-campus summer research project in professional ethics. Fellowship recipients receive $7,000 for their efforts, with on-campus room and board expenses paid by the student. The research topic of professional ethics is broadly construed to include ethical issues in a variety of occupations or professions. Twice per month, fellows meet with their fellowship faculty advisers to receive mentorship and support for their research.

Mayo Innovation Scholars Program: The Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP) offers an unparalleled opportunity for selected undergraduate students along with a small group of MBA students to research specific projects submitted by Mayo Clinic professionals. Whether they research the medical-scientific aspect of the project, or work on business-oriented tasks, students involved in the MISP project work alongside a faculty mentor and MBA student to explore cutting-edge products, research topics, and examine services provided by the Mayo Clinic. The experience involves training/orientation in the fall, followed by intensive research and work to write a paper and prepare a presentation that is given at the Mayo Clinic in March.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)/Gary Eichten Fellowship: Two students are selected each year from CSB/SJU to complete an internship at MPR, located in downtown St. Paul, learning the basics of news writing, reporting and production with a goal to write and produce material for MPR newscasts. This prestigious fellowship was created in honor of Gary Eichten, a 1969 Saint John's University graduate, who wore many hats during his award-winning, 40-plus year career at Minnesota Public Radio. Selected fellows work full time at MPR for 10 weeks each summer.