Democratic Dilemmas of Teaching Service-Learning
Curricular Strategies for Success

Foreword by Thomas Erlich
Paper: 978 1 57922 431 8 / $32.50
Published: May 2011  

Cloth: 978 1 57922 430 1 / $95.00
Published: April 2011  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 57922 599 5 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: March 2012  

E-Book: 978 1 57922 600 8 / $25.99
Published: February 2012  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
220 pp., 6" x 9"
A college student wants to lead a campaign to ban a young adult novel from his child’s elementary school as his service-learning project in a children’s literature course. Believing the book is offensive to religious sensibilities, he sees his campaign as a service to children and the community. Viewing such a ban as limiting freedom of speech and access to information, the student’s professor questions whether leading a ban qualifies as a service project. If the goal of service is to promote more vital democratic communities, what should the student do? What should the professor do? How do they untangle competing democratic values? How do they make a decision about action?

This book addresses the teaching dilemmas, such as the above, that instructors and students encounter in service-learning courses.

Recognizing that teaching, in general, and service-learning, in particular, are inherently political, this book faces up to the resulting predicaments that inevitably arise in the classroom. By framing them as a vital and productive part of the process of teaching and learning for political engagement, this book offers the reader new ways to think about and address seemingly intractable ideological issues.

Faculty encounter many challenges when teaching service learning courses. These may arise from students’ resistance to the idea of serving; their lack of responsibility, wasting clients’ and community agencies’ time and money; the misalignment of community partner expectations with academic goals; or faculty uncertainty about when to guide students’ experiences and when direct intervention is necessary.

In over twenty chapters of case studies, faculty scholars from disciplines as varied as computer science, engineering, English, history, and sociology take readers on their and their students’ intellectual journeys, sharing their messy, unpredictable and often inspiring accounts of democratic tensions and trials inherent in teaching service-learning. Using real incidents – and describing the resources and classroom activities they employ – they explore the democratic intersections of various political beliefs along with race/ethnicity, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and other lived differences and likenesses that students and faculty experience in their service-learning classroom and extended community. They share their struggles of how to communicate and interact across the divide of viewpoints and experiences within an egalitarian and inclusive environment all the while managing interpersonal tensions and conflicts among diverse people in complex, value-laden situations.

The experienced contributors to this book offer pedagogical strategies for constructing service-learning courses, and non-prescriptive approaches to dilemmas for which there can be no definitive solutions.

Table of Contents:
Foreword—Thomas Ehrlich

Introduction—Christine M. Cress and David M. Donahue

I. Democratic Dilemmas of Teaching Service-Learning
1) The Nature of Teaching and Learning Dilemmas: Democracy in the Making—David M. Donahue
2) Banning Books to Protect Children: Clashing Perspectives in Service-Learning—Lynne A. Bercaw
3) Solidarity, Not Charity: Issues of Privilege in Service-Learning—Caroline Heldman

II. Designing Service-Learning Courses for Democratic Outcomes
4) Pedagogical and Epistemological Approaches to Service-Learning: Connecting Academic Content to Community Service—Christine M. Cress
5) Student Objection to Service-Learning: A Teachable Moment About Political and Community Engagement—Dari E. Sylvester
6) Practice Makes Imperfect: Service-Learning for Political Engagement as a Window into the Challenges of Political Organizing—Katja M. Guenther
7) Modeling Citizenship: The Nexus of Knowledge and Skill—Stephanie Stokamer

III. Creating Democratic Learning Communities Within and Without
8) Consensus, Collaboration, and Community: Mutually Exclusive Ideals?—Christine M. Cress
9) Cultivating Relationships Between a Grass Roots Organization and a University—Judith Liu
10) Negotiating Student Expectations and Interpretations of Service-Learning—Marcia Hernandez
11) Service-Learning is Like Learning to Walk: Baby Steps to Cultural Competence—Tanya Renner, RaeLyn Axlund, Lucero Topete and Molli K. Fleming

IV. Deconstructing Dilemmas for Democratically Centered Learning
12) Conflict as a Constructive Curricular Strategy—David M. Donahue
13) Why Are You So Mad? Critical Multiculturalist Pedagogies and Mediating Racial Conflicts in Community-Based Learning—Kathleen S. Yep
14) Working with High School Dropouts: Service-Learning Illustrations of Power and Privilege—Becky Boesch
15) Democratic Lessons in Faith, Service, and Sexuality—Thomas J. Van Cleave

V. Academic Disciplines as Dimensions of Democracy
16) Disciplinary Knowledge, Service-Learning, and Citizenship—David M. Donahue
17) Why Should I Care? Introducing Service-Learning and Political Engagement to Computer Science Students—Christopher Brooks
18) Political Science Students and the Disengaged Polis: Civic Education and Its Discontents—Corey Cook
19) Health Psychology and Political Engagement: The Why and How—Sandra A. Sgoutas-Emch
20) To Reform or To Empower: Asian American Studies and Education for Critical Consciousness—Kathleen S. Yep

VI. Evaluating Democratic Process and Progress
21) Assessment of Expected and Unexpected Service-Learning Outcomes—Christine M. Cress
22) Expecting the Political, Getting the Interview: How Students (Do Not) See Writing as a Political Act—Catherine Gabor
23) Addressing Policy Dilemmas with Community-Based Research and Assessing Student Outcomes—Laura Nichols, Fernando Cázares, & Angelica Rodriguez
24) Service-Learning for a Democratic Future—David M. Donahue and Christine M. Cress



Reviews & Endorsements:
"Over the course of recent decades, I have been increasingly concerned by the evidence that our democracy is in serious trouble. College students are not alone responsible for fixing the messes that the generations before them have created. But unless they are educated to engage in democracy—and not simply sit on the sidelines—the mess can only get worse—much worse. This book is a powerful set of lessons about how to engage college students in ways that are challenging, provocative, and that, most important, provide learning that lasts for active citizenry. I cannot imagine a more important task."
- Thomas Ehlich, former president of Indiana University , and Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
"A perfect road map for faculty to assist them in taking their students to the next level of awareness, service, and engagement.

This book provides faculty with thought provoking scenarios on how to address dilemmas encountered in implementing service learning. It provides useful illustrations on how “to handle” the dilemmas without infringing on intellectual freedom, values, or judgment of all parties involved by utilizing civil public discourse and reinforcing the importance of civic engagement. Excellent work by all the authors."

- Lyvier Conss Executive Director , MESA Community College National Center for Community Engagement