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UVA Public Service

Learning in Action at the University of Virginia

Mapping Public Service

Which students do and do not participate in public service at UVA? Which locations in the community are and are not served by UVA public service projects? How can UVA direct motivated students to service projects that complement their own interests? What skills and training do students and community members need in order to work together effectively?

Right now, the University cannot answer any of the above questions comprehensively. Why? In keeping with UVA's tradition of student self-governance, many of the public service projects were created and are managed by undergraduate students.

However, out of an environment of student self-governance has grown a public service and community engagement portfolio that is diverse, but with little coordination among units, offices, departments and groups engaged in student service work. This lack of coordination limits the institution's ability to understand and respond to the realities of public service and civic engagement integral to the student experience and culture of UVA.

Therefore, the purpose of this initiative is to equip a team of undergraduate researchers with the tools, expertise, and support needed to systematically map the network of public service projects that exist at UVA in order to understand the comprehensive impact of service activities, identify gaps in service, and develop a strategic plan to maintain and even improve service opportunities that benefit the community and facilitate student learning. By engaging student-researchers in this project of mapping and analyzing the current state of service at UVA, we will not only better understand public service and civic engagement but also support the development of civic leaders who fully understand the contexts of service at their University. This grant will fund the training and coordination of a team of student researchers who will, with support, systematically "map" public service experiences at UVA using social network analysis. (Social network analysis is a technique that allows for an understanding of the linkages among individuals, groups such as organizations, institutions, communities, and activities, as well as the implications of those linkages.)


With a grant from the Jefferson Trust, the Mapping Public Service research team is seeking to create a comprehensive database of all public service projects between the University of Virginia and our community partners. This information will enable the University to better identify ways to assist and grow public service opportunities at UVA, as well as help students, faculty, staff, and community members identify good matches for their service initiatives. If you have any questions about the survey (or if you wish to have a student researcher complete the survey for and/or with you), please contact one of our principal investigators, Dr. Karen Inkelas at karen.inkelas@virginia.edu or 434-243-1943 or Associate Dean Julie Caruccio at caruccio@virginia.edu or 434-924-4836. Click here to access the survey.