he presence of this second volume of the Academic Exchange Quarterly 
on service-learning attests to the growing interest in areas related 
to connections between service and learning in education.  Interest 
was so great for first special issue on service learning that it 
created a need for a second volume.  When I proposed a special issue 
on service learning my vision was to have six or eight articles in 
one volume.  I envisioned that in a year's time AEQ would receive 
twenty or so manuscripts for consideration and from there the review 
process would cull out a core for inclusion.  All of us at AEQ had 
no way of knowing the response would be such to warrant two volumes 
with the first already sold out.  This clearly represents a burgeoning 
field of inquiry. 

What is clear to me as I have read many of the manuscripts submitted 
and all the articles accepted is how the scholarship related to service 
learning has evolved.  No longer is research on service learning simply 
related to case studies of issues related to individual campuses.  
These case studies have merit and are very important to a field of 
study in its infancy, but it is not enough.  As research, scholarship, 
and practice on service learning grows so too does the sophistication 
and expansiveness of our thinking about related topics. Research needs 
to address the issues that transcend campus boundaries and the purview 
of individual experience.  

Professionals in the field, as attested to in this volume, are grappling 
with some complex issues related to service in addition to addressing 
some difficult questions.  Does service learning contribute to increases 
in content knowledge? What are the connections between service learning 
and undergraduate research?  How can service learning enhance the study 
of ethics?  What are some service learning strategies to move beyond 
passivity in the classroom? Why should service learning be part of the 
liberal arts curriculum?  These and other questions are at the heart of 
the articles in this volume.

The knowledge generated from these articles is sure to help those working 
to expand the use of service learning in their classroom, campus, or 
community.  The "big questions" that arise for me as I read the manuscripts 
and now articles from these volumes are:  How do we use the research 
related to service learning?  How can we use service learning research 
to inform practice and policy?  How do we make these articles purposeful 
and useful in the field of service learning in terms of practice, policy, 
and future scholarship? The links I see between theory and practice in 
service learning are the opportunity to reflect upon what we know about 
service learning and to think about ways to improve both theory and 
practice.  Another important component of the research presented here is 
its contribution to the ongoing task of establishing legitimacy for 
service learning as a pedagogy and a field of study.  

My experiences have led me to interactions with a myriad of people involved 
in service learning as teachers, administrators, and researchers.  One 
observation I have about all of these people is their interest in making 
the world a more just and caring place and their excitement about finally 
finding a way to enact these principles in the classroom and in the 
community.  Service learning is a pedagogy of possibility.  By taking 
students out of the classroom and getting them involved in the everyday 
realities of their communities, we are providing them with first hand 
experience to the possibilities that exist in the world to make a 
difference. It's easy to get bogged down in some of the grim realities 
of life such as violence, teenage suicide, natural disasters, sickness, 
racism, and untimely death.  What service learning offers us, all of us, 
is the option to get involved in making a difference in the world one 
community project at a time.  Involvement in the community, and especially 
when tied to meaningful reflection, provides students the opportunity to 
look at the many options available for meaningful action that can make the 
world a better place. Overly optimistic? I don't think so.  The growing 
body of research related to the impact service learning has on students, 
in this volume and elsewhere, points to the expanse of possibilities for 
community renewal and change.  

Throughout the past two years colleagues and I have spoken with nearly 
100 undergraduates involved in service learning.  Based on the findings 
from these data it is fair to say that students are finding hope and 
possibility for their communities through involvement in service learning.  
When I hear students talk about newly seeing themselves as "social change 
agents" "involved in democratic processes" and "committed to staying 
involved in the community" I am eager to listen.  What the articles in 
this volume offer to those of us wanting to make a difference in education 
is the possibility to do so.  Service learning offers us, as educators, 
the possibility to have lasting impacts on students' lives and community 
well-being.

Kelly Ward, Ph.D.
Oklahoma State University
Subject Editor