When Faculty Learn New Things: A Look at Service Immersion and its Benefits for the Collective Good, With Dr. Richard Clark of John Carroll University and Dr. James (Jimmy) Menkhaus

Service immersion is a transformative journey that goes beyond mere acts of service; it’s about deepening our understanding of the world and advancing social justice through genuine human connection. In this blog post, we explore insights and stories of those who ventured to places like Ecuador and then applied their lessons learned toward their local communities and within the broader global context. Two experts in this field, Dr. Richard Clark, a Professor in Sociology and Criminology at John Carroll University, and Dr. James (Jimmy) Menkhaus, have shared their insights, highlighting the incredible potential of service immersion to drive global citizenship, steer globally and socially-justice conscious choices, enhance connections between faculty and students, and our overall connection with humanity.


Core Takeaways from this podcast:


  • From Ecuador to Everywhere:  Travelling and immersing in a new environment to truly understand the lived experience of someone born somewhere else than you is powerful. Ecuador is one travel experience listed in this podcast, but the idea is universally applicable. This is the essence of service immersion – a powerful experience that broadens your horizons and connects you on a human level with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Lessons in Diversity and Empathy: Intellectual development, spiritual development, cultural sensitivity, empathy, and the nuances of social justice in a global context are available outcomes for learners participating in service learning. 
  • Bringing it Home: The beauty of service immersion is that it doesn’t end when you leave Ecuador or any other destination. The lessons you’ve learned, the connections you’ve made, and the perspectives you’ve gained can be applied to your local community. It’s a ripple effect that begins with you.
  • A Global Perspective: Travel and connection to those in other communities across the globe supporting the recognition that the challenges you’ve seen abroad also exist in your own backyard, and you’re inspired to make a difference on a global scale.

The expertise of Dr. Clark and Dr. Menkhaus underscores the transformative power of service immersion to humanize learning and its outcomes. It’s not just about international travel and acts of service; it’s about broadening your understanding of the world and becoming an agent of change, both locally and globally. Through this powerful journey, it is possible for learners to contribute to a more interconnected, compassionate, and just world. Service immersion can be a bridge to connect us with our outside world by asking us to go inward in the process.
Do you have service-learning available on your campus? 


About our Guests

Dr. Richard Clark, wearing blue collared plaid shirt and smiling at camera

Meet Dr. Richard Clark 

Richard Clark, Ph.D. — Dr. Clark received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from SUNY-Albany. He is a Professor in the Sociology and Criminology Department at John Carroll University. Beside his interest in the transformative effects of service-immersion programs, he is exploring the influence of participating in prison college courses on undergraduate students. He is also involved in a project exploring the content analysis of letters written by death row prisoners to their pen pals.   


Dr. James Menkhaus wearing blue t-shirt and smiling at camera

Meet Dr. James (Jimmy) Menkhaus 

Dr. James (Jimmy) Menkhaus holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University.  His current research interest is in the area of immersion programs, which generated his book Immersion: A Pilgrimage into Service published by New City Press in 2022.  After fifteen years in education, he is currently studying to be a hospital chaplain with a residency year at Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw, Michigan.  

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