Featured Instructors: 

Christine Catney, M.A., Pharm.D., clinical assistant professor of pharmacy

Hazel Hilton Seaba, Pharm.M.S., associate dean of pharmacy

Jim Peterson, M.A., Rotary Club of Iowa City A.M. - District 6000 (Iowa, USA)


Use service-learning to help students synthesize and apply academic knowledge.


  • Promotes critical thinking and reflection
  • Encourages student confidence and teamwork skills
  • Motivates student interest through application of academic knowledge


Christine Catney and Hazel Hilton Seaba describe how they broaden students’ learning through participation in a long-standing international interdisciplinary service-learning course, International Perspectives: Xicotepec. Service-learning is premised upon an equal partnership that benefits both students and the community. Through service-learning, students apply and synthesize knowledge and make meaningful connections between academic content and professional experience. The international aspect of the course helps students to appreciate global diversity, to experience being an outsider, and to better understand their own communities. 

Featured Instructors:

Christine Catney, MA, PharmD

Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy

Hazel Hilton Seaba, PharmMS

Associate Dean, Pharmacy

Jim Peterson, MA

Rotary Club of Iowa City A.M. - District 6000 (Iowa, USA)


Use service-learning to help students synthesize and apply academic knowledge.


Service-Learning: Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences

00:00 – 00:19

[Christine Catney] I personally believe that it's through experience and students' insight into how they change during that experience that actually produces some of the learning or makes that learning experience meaningful to the students.

00:19 – 00:58

[Hazel Hilton Seaba] So the title of this course is International Perspectives: Xicotepec. And Xicotepec, of course, is the name of the community that we do the service-learning in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The course started a little over ten years ago as an interdisciplinary course that students from the various disciplines such as Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Nursing, the Career Academy Leadership students, the Sociology students. Each of those groups has a specific project that they are going to work on.

00:58 – 01:15

[Christine] The Xicotepec course requires students to take knowledge that they have learned from a variety of places in the curriculum and put it together in new ways and it also gives a student an opportunity to explore some of the affective dimension of their learning.

01:15 – 01:49

[Hazel] A little over ten years ago, the Center for Teaching was very interested in creating opportunities for faculty members to learn about service-learning. And in my workshop was Craig Just, an engineering faculty member, who, as it turned out, actually had gone to Xicotepec with the Rotarians and some students. So Craig was in a position of needing to develop a course, and then the connection was made to Jim Peterson.

01:49 – 02:31

[Jim Peterson] Rotary is an international service organization with 1.2 million members and 34,000 clubs in just about every country in the world, and is dedicated to world peace and understanding through humanitarian service. Any project idea is always run past the Xicotepec Rotary Club. We really rely on them to guide us to the right projects in their community. They understand the needs in the community much more than we do. All the faculty who have come, they come first without the students to get the lay of the land and to investigate the possibilities of one of the projects they would do.

02:31 – 03:00

[Christine] We introduce the course to students with a basic definition of service-learning that positions the community as a teaching partner.

[Hazel]: Why do you need to go to this community in Mexico in order to do this kind of work? When you place students in an international setting it helps you understand your own culture.

03:00 – 03:41

[Christine] Students are informed about health problems in health literacy through courses that they take. The dentistry students applied flouride to teeth and coached children provided education about routine dental hygiene, and provided some brief dental exams. Pharmacy students did the deworming project.

[Hazel] The parents in the school value the fact that their children are receiving medication that's going to prevent worms and take care of any infestations they may have.

03:41 – 04:10

[Christine] We think of education as something we do individually rather than something we do that is going to have some impact in the community, and I think when students do see that their future work is going to have an impact, and that people have expectations for them based on that set of knowledge that they have that is unique to their profession that they are bringing back and to the community, and will continue to bring in the future.