PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Dr. Edina Haslauer is a senior lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and works in the humanities department and School of Education, teaching the course Ethnic and Gender Equity in Education. The goal of her class is to make her students aware of the multicultural issues in society and to help them gain an appreciation of diverse communities. She also teaches about inequities and how many lives are affected by it. “Many students are shocked to see, for example, that in Platteville we have homelessness and we have a lot of poverty,” she said. “Students oftentimes come from white middle class families and once they encounter diversity, they learn not only about others, but also about their own cultural assumptions and beliefs.”
The main requirement of the class is that each student must complete 20 hours of community service. At the beginning of each semester, a service learning fair is held where community members are able to share the community work that they have available during that time. Students sign up for the service that they are most interested in and then are expected to establish a relationship and maintain contact with the community members who are advising their volunteer experience. Some of the organizations that students are able to volunteer with include the Boys and Girls Club of Dubuque, Iowa; St. Mark Community Center of Dubuque; Multicultural Family Center in Dubuque; Circle Initiatives in Dubuque; Dodgeville Free Clinic; Family Advocates of Platteville; and public schools in Platteville and Darlington, Wis., and Dubuque. After working with some of those organizations, some students have been offered jobs because they had become so passionate about the work that they were doing in the community.
When travel is required, the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement helps provide the money to make it possible for students to get those experiences. Many of the volunteer opportunities that are PACCE funded take place in Dubuque, but each year PACCE also sponsors a trip to St. Augustine, Miss. for a mission trip. PACCE also gives money to students who mentor children in the Platteville School District and work on different projects.
“I want the students to understand that educational inequities affect all of us. We are all part of something bigger and then use that knowledge for the benefit of the society.”
–Dr. Edina Haslauer
Haslauer began teaching the Ethnic and Gender Equity in Education course about four years ago. She inherited the community service program and it was designed by a number of School of Education faculties before she began teaching the course. Since she began working with the program she has added more opportunities for her students and found several new volunteer events. Haslauer is currently looking to add a trip to Milwaukee, Wis., to the curriculum. She said it would help the students understand the gaps in educational opportunities in Wisconsin, especially the racial inequality that is more close to home than people realize.
“I want the students to understand that educational inequities affect all of us. We are all part of something bigger and then use that knowledge for the benefit of the society,” said Haslauer. “The most rewarding part for me is when students finish the semester and tell me that they plan to continue their work in the community because they feel that it is important and that they are able to make some sort of difference.”
Written by: Olivia Hennes, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, 608-342-1194, email@example.com