The Learning Integrated with Needed Construction and Service (LINCS) is a service-learning course sequence which is a core offering of the social and Comparative Analysis of Education Program at the Administrative and Policy Studies Department in the School of Education. This international service-learning program was created by Dr. Maureen Porter in an effort to connect the theoretical discussions that were going on in the classrooms with hands-on applications in challenging educational settings around the world.
The overarching goals of LINCS are to offer a challenging set of service-learning experiences. LINCS brings together faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students to participate in a meaningful, culturally sensitive service-learning project in education and international development. Students are exposed to both the theory and practice of leadership in service-learning through the field-based project and a follow-through reflective writing and arts-based projects. The program also allows for numerous community-extension exercises. Together, these classroom and field-based activities offer increasingly complex opportunities for participation.
“Several aspects of this multi-faceted program work together to build community among participants, and to push them to reconsider what it means to be an educator on the global stage,” explains Dr. Porter in her article Forging LINCS. Among Educators: The Role of International Service-Learning in Fostering a Community of Practice (Teacher Education Quarterly, Fall 2003). In partnership with the non-governmental organization (NGO) in the Sacred Valley of Peru, namely Richard Webb of ProPeru, students are able to serve in a range of ways that are meaningful to people located differently within the local community. Thus, the cumulative series of projects helps establish sustainable, long-term commitments to the program’s partners in a particular region, while at the same time offering cohorts the opportunity to see the longer-term impact of building projects.
LINCS is unique in that it does not end with the conclusion of the local community service provided in Peru. Every member does some sort of community extension exercise at the end of the course sequence that helps inform and involve others with LINCS. These include such diverse projects as designing a school curriculum about Peru, establishing a pen pal program between kids here and there, presenting analyses of the LINCS program at professional conferences, hosting a fiesta for our institutional supporters, and helping to staff the university's new Global Service Center, for which LINCS is a cornerstone program.