SEM 300: education of the mind and heart

By Jill C. Hindman
March 29, 2001

photo by Joe Holden

by Jill C. Hindman
assistant features editor

Each semester we flip through the course selection book looking for whatever classes we need to fulfill our requirements so that we can graduate on time. Not too often do we have to choose a class that will not only stimulate our minds, but also our hearts.

SEM 300 is a unique course in that it focuses on the common good, which is the umbrella theme that runs throughout each class offered in its section.

SEM 300 is a look into the spectrum of diversity. Through this course students are exposed to people from all different walks of life.

This course originated 11 years ago when the faculty at that time took a magnifying glass to the college’s core curriculum and decided that SEM 300 needed to be a major piece of it. All students are required to take the course their junior year.

Shirley Dixon, student liaison for service learning, explained that between 100 and 150 students participate in SEM 300 each semester. Class size is usually kept to a 20-person minimum so that discussion can reach a more personal level.

Students are able to choose which concentration they would like to be in. For example, this semester there are students working with immigrants who are preparing for their citizenship test, other students are big brothers and big sisters to grade school children and some students are tutoring eighth graders in danger of failing. These are just a few of the student work sites.

Cabrini was the first college to be recognized by a president for incorporating a service learning component into its core curriculum.

SEM 300 encourages students to consider their responsibilities to their communities and their roles in public life. It is an attempt to teach students to not only follow rules, but question them. It is an opportunity for students to explore what is good and what is unjust.

Often students are not asked to go beyond the walls of the classroom and grab hold of what they are learning. Normally they are given a paper to write or a reading assignment. In SEM 300 students come together and work outside of the classroom in a team effort.

The service that the students participate in each week reflects what they discuss in the classroom. SEM 300 is a chance for students to look inward.

This is not only a chance to educate the mind, but also the heart.

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Jill C. Hindman

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