Essential Practices for Risk Managers to Assist with Mitigating Potential Risks Associated with Service Learning

The risk manager plays a vital role in assisting appropriate campus stakeholders with the implementation of risk mitigation policies, procedures and techniques associated with service learning and other experiential learning experiences. The goal is not to deter such placements, but to assist in the mitigation of risk. These mitigation measures are necessary so that the learning opportunities afforded to students through community partners will be able to occur. Risk managers are highly encouraged to consider the guidance below which can serve to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the service-learning process and opportunities for mitigating risk.

  1. Understand Student Academic Field Experience for Credit Liability (SAFECLIP) Insurance and Indemnification: When a campus attempts to execute a University Agency Agreement with a site, there is often a need for negotiation of language specifically related to insurance and indemnification. It is therefore incumbent upon the risk manager to become familiar with the applicability of the CSU SAFECLIP coverage, and when and how that coverage might apply to our students and the site. Those same negotiations can also involve requests for the campus to extend worker’s compensation coverage to students in the event they sustain an injury during their placement. The risk manager should be prepared to respond to these questions regarding coverage, and how the SAFECLIP insurance should be perceived as a benefit to the site.  This knowledge will also be helpful to the risk manager in the event there is a need to file a claim.
  2. Become Familiar with the Approval Process and Forms: The risk manager needs to have a strong understanding of the steps necessary for a site to become approved. While the Request to Initiate PartnershipThis link will open a Word document. (docx), Learning Site Assessment FormThis link will open a Word document. (docx), Pre-Placement Assessment RubricThis link will open a Word document. (docx), and the Service-Learning Course Planning Checklist for FacultyThis link will open a Word document. (docx) are all different forms, they each contribute to the assessment of potential risks associated with a particular site. The risk manager should become familiar with these forms and the purpose they serve. The risk manager should also be prepared to provide guidance in the event the completion of these forms reveals any significant potential risks, as well as when an actual in-person site visit might be required. In addition to these forms, the risk manager should also become familiar with the language in the University Agency Agreement, as risk managers are often called upon to review proposed revisions to the insurance and indemnification language. Lastly, the risk manager should become familiar with the applicability of the waiver of liability form in relation to service learning, as well as any online platforms their campus utilizes to assist in facilitating service-learning opportunities (i.e., CalState S4, other).
  3. Collaborate: The risk manager should establish a collaborative working relationship with their campus service-learning/community engagement staff as well as their Procurement and Contracts office. A strong working relationship will serve to ensure the appropriate stakeholders are comfortable reaching out to you for input on the various risk-related questions that arise throughout the approval process. Risk managers are often asked to provide guidance related to the level of risk at a potential site, or whether the proposed alternative contract language is acceptable. Establishing these relationships will also serve to further inform each stakeholder as to the risk manager’s appetite for risk.