Patrick T.G. Keenan (2005) majored in political science. After graduating, Patrick joined the Franciscan Volunteers at their mission in Camden, N.J.
The following is an abstract of his project. (Three Bonaventure students interned at the Olean Area Youth Court in the 2005-2006 academic year.)
Shedding a Little Light: Constructing New Visions Through Service-learning and Restorative Justice Objectives
- To enhance first-time youthful offenders’ understanding of their societal responsibilities by connecting them with student mentors who model and provide information on constructive life behaviors. Through the ensuing dialogue, the youthful offenders begin to value a communal vision.
- To engage student mentors in an act of service-learning that increases their awareness of the Olean community by linking them with first-time youthful offenders who are pressured by societal influences. Through the ensuing dialogue, the student mentors begin to value a Franciscan vision.
- Do parallel courses of development pursued by two groups complement and strengthen each other through mutual engagement?
- Does a student mentor’s chosen course of service-learning that seeks an understanding of societal influences complement and strengthen through mutual engagement a youthful offender’s mandated course of restorative justice that seeks an understanding of societal responsibilities?
- Does dialogue open up new understandings of communal or Franciscan visions?
This project will engage two distinct entities. The Olean Area Youth Court is a delinquency prevention program that provides first-time youthful offenders a single opportunity to claim responsibility for their actions and to contribute to their community by means of a service project. The Court stresses the importance of learning and societal responsibilities.
St. Bonaventure is a small, Franciscan liberal arts university that lacks a service-learning program. Its education acknowledges societal influences by engaging its surrounding communities to affect understandings.
This project will structure a service-learning program open to all university students. Through an application process, it will attract self-motivated, independent students whose interests lie in issues of social policy, education or justice, and provide them with a year-long, credit-bearing opportunity in which the program connects the student mentors with youthful offenders from the Olean Area Youth Court.
The Olean Area Youth Court will train the mentors and will expect them to provide the youthful offenders with information on constructive life behaviors in weekly one-on-one dialogue sessions. The court mandates documentation of these sessions; thus, the student mentors will reflect, in detail, on each session, perceiving societal influences through a Franciscan lens.
Additionally, in order to perpetuate the program, the student mentors will share their experiences with new student mentors whom they recruit through a similar application process.
The project will construct a handbook for use by future student mentors who will sustain the program. It will encompass all aspects of the program, detailing each action necessary to ensure the viability of this program in subsequent classes, and will document the credit-bearing work.
||Patrick's mentor was Dr. Bart Lambert
of the Political Science Department.