Hal Vincent offers insight on engaging in service learning and community involvement through coursework and student involvement

A lecturer in communications and faculty director of Live Oak Communications, Vincent has aimed to engage with the community through helping local organizations with strategic communications work.

By Kristin Moore '19

Academic service-learning courses are designed to help students gain a better understanding of course content by putting it into practice. Service-learning courses engage students in real-life settings, working on community issues to connect classroom learning with societal issues. Lecturer in Communications and Director of Live Oak Communications Hal Vincent has engaged in service-learning teaching through his courses and involvement in Live Oak Communications.

Photo of courtesy of Elon University’s School of Communication’s Faculty & Staff page. https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/communications/faculty-staff/
An effective service-learning course involves students engaging in a meaningful community project combined with reflection to process the learning gained from field experience. Vincent aims to provide this opportunity for his students by selecting companies and organizations and using them as a client. Students walk away with a unique skill set they can use in the future, and clients walk away with quality work.

“Strategic communications is all about connecting our students with real professionals so they learn how to take the classroom learning and apply it for real companies and organizations,” said Vincent. “Oftentimes we partner with local and community organizations who care about the health and vibrancy of our community.”

Some of the projects completed in these service-learning and community engagement courses include working with numerous locally-owned businesses that are trying to improve the community.

“The work my students do through classes or Live Oak allows them to apply the concepts that we study to make success for our clients, which hopefully result in stronger, healther and vibrant communities,” said Vincent. “While not every class or experience might fall under the classification of service-learning, community engagement is a foundational piece of the education of strategic communications at Elon University. It’s all about using your experiences and talents to help a local business that wants to serve the community in a meaningful way.” 

Vincent hopes that his students can walk away knowing that the work they are doing in the class is valued and meaningful.

“My hope is that students have the chance to see how their skills in strategic communications can help a local business or organization, which in turn can help the community,” said Vincent. “As a result, students gain valuable skills that can be applied to their profession and clients walk away generally impressed with the student work.”

Service-learning and community engagement teaching have many benefits. For students, service-learning can provide a positive impact on academic outcomes such as problem-solving, critical thinking and problem analysis. It provides the opportunity to increase involvement in the community and improve social responsibility and citizenship skills. Vincent hopes that faculty and staff at Elon will continue to engage with local businesses and organizations through their coursework.