undergraduate section


When you are registered for a Public & Professional Writing (PPW) class during Fall or Spring terms, you may register for an extra credit that will allow you to volunteer for a nonprofit cause of your choice and reflect on your experiences. Service-learning is a way for you to integrate community service into your educational experience as a college student.  It’s also a great way to see how different professional contexts function.

Students have had a range of powerful experiences, including finding internships and jobs through their service-learning work.

Here are answers to questions that students often ask about this experience:

What type of service would I do?

You may choose the organization that you work with from a list we provide or you can identify a potential organization on your own.  You might walk dogs at an animal shelter, help an organization plan and carry out a fundraising event, work on a newsletter, or help re-package food for a food bank, for example. There are many possibilities.

What are the benefits of service learning?

If you choose to register for the service-learning component of this course, you can expect to benefit in a number of ways:

  • You get a credit toward your degree.
  • You get experience with a local organization or agency that could lead to an internship or job.
  • You can list your service-learning experience on your resume.
  • You get the satisfaction of contributing your time to a worthy cause and of being part of a community that is engaged in public service here in Pittsburgh.
  • You get to learn more about the nonprofit sector, which is an excellent way to test the waters if you are interested in working in the field.

What are the requirements?

You will work with your chosen organization for at least 30 hours during the term, participate actively in an online class starting week 3 of the term, keep a reflective journal on the course blog, and complete a couple of short assignments as well as a presentation (for the instructor and the other students) at the end of the term. There will not be an exam for this component, and the grade for the credit is S/NC.

In order to register for the service-learning experience, you must take the following steps:

  • You must be registered for a PPW course.
  • You must be willing to participate actively in the online class (through Courseweb) starting week 3 of the term.
  • You must register for ENGCMP 1903 Service Learning in PPW before the end of the add/drop period.
  • You must find a site where you wish to volunteer. We provide a list of possibilities on our website, but you are welcome to volunteer at other nonprofit organizations.
  • You must download and complete the Service-Learning learning agreement with your site, then leave the completed form in Janet Zellmann's mailbox in 501 CL.
  • You must be willing to meet periodically with Janet Zellmann (dates and times to be arranged) and present your experiences at the end of the term to your fellow service-learning students.

Do I have to pay for the additional credit?

Whether you have to pay for the class depends on how many credits you are taking. If you are part-time (11 credits or under), then you pay by the credit.  If you are full-time, you pay a flat rate for 12 to 18 credits. So if you are registered for 12 or 15 credits, you can add a credit for no additional charge.

What if I have other questions?

If you have questions, contact Janet Zellmann.