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Homelessness: After Service-Learning Class, It’s Top-of-Mind for Future Educators at Duquesne

Where could a person at risk of being homeless turn for help?

As part of service-learning, second-year students in Dr. Rodney Hopson’s Social Justice in Educational Settings class at Duquesne University set out to find the answers.

They rode and walked through Wilkinsburg, discussed the situation with Wilkinsburg Area School District officials and social service agencies. Through old-fashioned persistence, the class was able to find out—and to produce a directory of services, including assistance for victims of abuse, community partners, disability services, drug and alcohol counseling, employment, faith-based groups, and child care and disaster services, among others.

Through this project, the class took its learning beyond Canevin Hall and was challenged to consider injustice, said Hopson, professor in the Department of Foundations and Leadership.  “It’s making what I’m teaching relevant to students.”

The directory was presented at a Wilkinsburg Area School Board meeting and targeted principals, teachers and students, from elementary to high school. The booklet also was distributed to businesses and agencies in the community, said class member Danielle D’Andrea.

Students said the project challenged their perceptions of Wilkinsburg, compared to what is captured in negative news reports, and let them experience the close-knit neighborhood, its community center and resources.

“Homelessness isn’t just about some guy standing on the corner hitting everybody up for money, but about kids in schools who don’t have a home, and might be staying with other kids they know,” said student Dominic Broglia. “We hope it helps kids.”

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.