Woven throughout all of our learning experiences are four core threads: Community, Criticality, Identity Development, and Systems Literacy. While this language is somewhat specific to SLL programming, they directly support institutional undergraduate and graduate learning outcomes and the UNLV Top Tier Initiative.
We partner with students, faculty, staff, administrators, community members, and community organizations to advance learning and development. In each relationship we strive for trust, mutuality, and reciprocity, recognizing that each person and organization carries expertise and a powerful story. We bring our own expertise and stories with us at all times, and offer them for shared benefit.
Criticality surfaces hidden assumptions and structures as we seek not only to understand how things are, but to envision and actively work towards how they should be. Employing a critical lens must be balanced and informed by critical hope, which is the ability to continually face the challenges of our present while maintaining optimism about our future. Criticality balances the processes of deconstruction (the process of identifying and thinking critically about taken-for-granted and hidden assumptions) and reconstruction (the process of making incremental gains through adaptation and alteration of previous assumptions, models, and structures), and centers the concept of justice - racial, social, environmental - in all that we do.
Identity development is the process of becoming more complex in how we understand and express personal and social identities. The process is socially constructed, meaning that it is shaped through our formal and informal interactions with others. This is a life-long journey, but can be advanced through interactions between and across differences, as well as developing skills and habits in reflection and critical analysis.
A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. This applies to everything around us, including biology, ecology, economics, organizations, education, community, government, etc. While systems are everywhere, we are conditioned to see and attribute responsibility to the parts - the individuals - and often struggle to see the whole. Systems literacy, particularly in relation to social systems, is the ability to recognize these systems at play to such an extent as to be able to challenge, interrupt, or reshape them in order to achieve more just outcomes.