Bennion Center Takes Community Engaged Learning to a New Level of Speed


Kimberly Roach

(Daily Utah Chronicle File Photo)

(Daily Utah Chronicle File Photo)
(Daily Utah Chronicle File Photo)

The Bennion Center is combining speed dating and community service into one event today.
The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Bennion Center.
The Community Engaged Learning speed dating is an event hosted by the Bennion Center twice a semester with the help of academic departments of the U as well as community partners throughout the greater Salt Lake community. The event attempts to combine service with academic interests where students can find a fit for themselves within the Community Engaged Scholars program.
Scheduling for it typically takes place earlier in the semester to allow the community partners time to plan attendance.
Over 100 courses are dedicated to Community Engaged Learning at the U. Some of these courses are comprised entirely of community-engaged learning scholars while other courses have an added section with a community-engaged learning focus.
Faculty for the speed dating event are not all employed at the U. They are also men and women who are highly involved in community efforts. Professors involved work on integrating community learning into the curriculum and take students out into the community to take part in works of service.
Chris Jensen, the Community Engaged Learning coordinator for the Bennion Center, said the event is an important part of the service programs at the U.
“There are over 3,000 students at the U who are involved in some sort of community-based service learning,” Jensen said. “An event like this can help pair students with mentors who share their interests and provide them a way to get more involved in the community. Regardless of what a student is majoring in, there is a fit for them.”
Due to the short time allowed for this event and the amount of people who will be on-hand for the students to talk to, the Bennion Center has taken a speed-dating approach to make sure each student has a chance to maximize their opportunities for meeting and talking to the community partners and faculty.
“Really, the speed dating concept was adapted to be more efficient for the students,” Jensen said. “The students begin the event by pairing up with a community partner and talking with them. The Bennion Center staff on-hand have timers. When the timer dings, the student moves to the next community partner. It creates a fun atmosphere that is also really productive.”
Ying Tan, a sophomore in sociology and marketing, said the event sounds like a good time.
“I’ve never participated in anything like that before, but it sounds like a great way to get more involved,” Tan said. “Sometimes I think students want to get involved, but they don’t know exactly who to talk to or where to turn. Having a group of people who can help you find your path to being more community-engaged sounds like something more students should get involved in.”
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