College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Sociology & Criminology

Service Learning Courses

Students in the Department of Sociology and Criminology are required to complete either a three-credit-hour internship (SO484) or a service-learning course. Service learning courses combine academic studies with volunteer work or service projects related to a class topic. Service learning is an excellent way to introduce students to sociological concepts, ideas, theories and the sociological imagination, and to give students an opportunity to apply these important sociological themes to real-life situations.

Service learning courses are beneficial to both the student and the community. Research has reported many benefits of service learning courses for the student, including improved grades and learning, increased civic engagement, enhanced job skills and greater appreciation for diversity. Many community-based organizations that students will work with in their service learning courses include service work with disadvantaged groups and service work focused on the amelioration of social problems. Sociology, as a discipline, is very well situated to provide knowledge, and the conceptual and theoretical tools for understanding social problems and the experiences of disadvantaged groups of people.

There are several student learning outcomes of service learning courses as stated by Butler's Center for Citizenship and Community. They are:

  1. To have an active learning experience that integrates classroom knowledge with activities in the Indianapolis community.
  2. To use an experience in Indianapolis to further the individual student's understanding of the nature of community and the relationship between community and his or her self.
  3. To further students' commitment to service and ongoing involvement as community actors.

Service learning courses that have been offered in the Sociology and Criminology Department include:

  • Gender, Race, and Crime. In this course, students worked as mentors for individuals who had recently been released from prison. Students also sat in on meetings to learn about the common issues that former prisoners face in their daily lives such as drug addiction, issues finding jobs and housing, etc. 
  • Latin American Societies. In this course, students worked through various agencies to help Latin American Immigrants with translation needs, tutoring, and helping to fill out forms and letters.
  • AIDS and Society.  In this course, students provided service at a center in Indianapolis that provides resources for individuals who are HIV positive or who have AIDS. Students worked directly with persons who have HIV or AIDS and/or their family members. The ultimate goal of the center is to empower those with HIV or AIDS and to lead the fight for the prevention of HIV.
  • Urban Community. In this course students are exposed to urban issues through field trips, speakers and structured opportunities involving local government agencies, neighborhoods and community centers.

All Butler students entering in fall 2010 or later are required to take a course that involves active engagement in the Indianapolis community. These courses are referred to as the Indianapolis Community Requirement (ICR). While courses that satisfy this requirement are found throughout the curriculum, service learning courses in the Department of Sociology and Criminology will also satisfy this requirement. Therefore, enrolling in a service learning course offered by the Department of Sociology and Criminology satisfies two requirements at once (a departmental requirement as well as a university core requirement).