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Service-learning website debuts

Photo contributed by Pearce Center for Professional Communication

The Synergy website will highlight service-learning projects like Tigers in Tanzinia (above). Student and faculty work together to make projects like these possible.

Today marks the launch of Clemson’s new service learning website. Synergy in Service Learning (formerly Clemson Collaborations) is a web publication of the Clemson University Service Alliance. Articles in the publication focus on highlighting service work performed by faculty participating in the Clemson University Service Alliance Faculty Fellows Program each academic year. 
The website has been designed and created by interns at the Pearce Center for Professional Communication who have worked with the Service Alliance over the last several semesters in order to create a publication which will highlight service learning projects at Clemson. Pearce Center intern Elizabeth Nichols spoke about the experiencing of designing the website by saying, “We wanted it to be user-friendly but still be effective in getting information across.” Nichols and other interns had to learn how to use WordPress and design the site from the ground-up.  Director of Community Engagement and Service-Learning Kathy Woodard said that the Pearce Center “was the perfect home” for Synergy due to its own history of service-learning through the client-based writing program. 
Articles, also written by the interns, feature reflections on the service-learning projects being carried out, discussing the projects themselves and the impact that they’ve had on individuals and communities. Woodard emphasized the importance of service-learning by saying, “[Service-learning] really helps students’ critical thinking skills and communication skills and it is a good avenue for students to put their skills into practice in an experiential setting.”
The Service Alliance had previously tried to create an app for their web publication, but Apple rejected them because the app demographics wouldn’t reach a wide enough audience to warrant a place on the Apple store. 
Synergy in Service Learning was initially inspired from a similar program at another university, and was envisioned as an effective way to provide Pearce Center interns with real world experiential learning. By creating the website itself and by writing articles about service-learning projects, it would become possible to reach more people with information about the work done by the Service Alliance, and also acquire more support and volunteers for the program. 
Originally the publication was envisioned just as a monthly .pdf newsletter, but evolved to become an app, and then a magazine and has since morphed and evolved into the website concept that is currently being put into place. “It is a work in progress, as it should be,” Woodard said, “It’s growing and expanding.” What would have been an annual report has become a series of articles which could be accessed at any time, so interested individuals won’t just be exposed to the work of the Service Alliance once a year.
Service Learning is based in the idea that people can give back to the community while still gaining applicable experience and skills, so as to help their employability. It provides students with the opportunities to do real work in the real world for good causes, and then teaches them about getting the word out and reporting onthem properly.
Pearce intern Lacey Firestone, who has worked on Synergy since its inception, said she hopes that Synergy becomes a recognizable brand across campus. “I think the brand has become a strong one. I think, hopefully, people across campus will begin to recognize Synergy and anything Synergy related,” she said.
Students and faculty can access Synergy at and learn more about how to get involved with service-learning on campus. 
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