Volume 10, Issue 1     Editorial (2)
Service-Learning This special issue features a variety of scholarly articles that explore applied research on service-learning and its potential for expanding student learning, improving communities, and building bridges across cultural/social/geopolitical boundaries. Several of the authors include specific guidance on course development, discussing the challenges and opportunities for implementing student-led projects in diverse contexts (urban and rural, K-12 and higher education, global and domestic). Foley describes his own five years of experience in teaching a service-learning course, describing the ways in which he has learned through experience the value of integrating objectives such as development of cultural awareness and appreciation of diversity in shaping the ongoing evolution of a capstone course in Construction Management. Purmensky explores expanding roles for technology in enhancing reflective feedback in service-learning courses, building capacity in collaboration with community partners, and strengthening learning communities. A unique component of service-learning project design is its focus on reciprocity and mutual exchanges of new knowledge and understanding. This dimension is highlighted in articles by Jones & Esposito, Millhouse, Gibson, Paris, and Kapucu et al. Articles by Jones & Esposito and Millhouse examine some of the unique challenges of developing authentic partnerships between universities and communities in the context of foreign studies programs. Their articles illustrates the opportunities for continual learning and reflection while striving to find the balance between responding to community needs in unfamiliar cultural terrains and developing college students’ academic/professional skills. Gibson carries this point even further by reflecting on the role of faculty members in designing, evaluating and documenting the value of service-learning courses and programs of study. Rather than striving to maintain a neutral stance and remain on the outside as a disengaged observer, Gibson writes about the powerful ways in which her students’ community service learning projects have transformed her own experience in academia. On a broader level, her reflective essay helps scholars/practitioners to assess the value-added of community-based learning when instruction focuses, at least in part, on social justice themes. The Paris article approaches other borders and boundaries in his description of service-learning with prison inmates, citing Foucault and Angela Davis’ critical analyses of the prison-industrial complex. His article discusses possibilities for university students to discover the humanity of inmates at the intersection of prison education with service-learning courses. Kapucu and Petruscu address issues of capacity building in the community. Their article compares and contrasts two community service learning courses in Florida and Michigan, exploring the differences and similarities between practical approaches, goals and outcomes in the two, using concepts of social capital and capacity building in building effective partnerships between universities and community organizations. Articles by Halfacre et al and Waggener provide new perspectives on study of service-learning’s impacts on student participants. Their articles look at the ways in which well-designed programs can enhance student attitudes, civic commitment, and social/political connections to their own communities. Regan further explores service-learning impacts by engaging special education students in a teacher preparation program with emotionally disturbed children. In what ways will service-learning expand opportunities for student learning, improve communities, and build bridges across boundaries in schools, communities and universities in the 21st century? This issue of AEQ presents the work of scholars who describe and analyze these and other important dimensions of service-learning’s impacts on their own research and practice. We hope that these papers will engage readers in considering new possibilities for their own research and practice.Judith H. Munter, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research, College of Education
University of Texas at El Paso
CFP for the next Service-Learning issue, Spring 2007.
See Index to all published articles.