Disciplining Service Learning: Institutionalization and the Case for Community Studies

Dan W. Butin, Merrimack College

Special Issue: Future Directions for Service Learning in Higher Education

Journal Website: http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/index.cfm

Abstract/ Summary

This article argues that the service-learning field has been pursuing the wrong revolution. Namely, service learning has been envisioned as a transformative pedagogical practice and philosophical orientation that would change the fundamental policies and practices of the academy. However, its attempted institutionalization faces substantial barriers and positions service learning in an uncomfortable double-bind that ultimately co-opts and neutralizes its agenda. This article argues that a truly transformative agenda may be to create a parallel movement to develop an “academic home” for service learning within academic “community studies” programs. This “disciplining” of service learning is the truly revolutionary potential of institutionalizing service learning.