This article explores representations emergent in discourse about service learning in an effort to understand what gives the notion special value. A job presentation of a candidate for dean of faculty, articles published in a college newspaper, descriptions posted on a college website and commentary offered in an interview with a student demonstrate that representations of service learning are salient in multiple contexts and presuppose the potential to transform the lives of everyone involved. This article identifies one of the discursive constructs making transformation possible – even inevitable – in reflections on service learning, and uses the construct to explore how it shapes a single instance of service learning's failure.
Many disciplines in the social sciences and humanities can offer profound insights into what it means to be human. History, however, encompasses the totality of human experience: economics, politics, philosophy, art, ethics, sociology, science - all of it becomes part of history eventually. Therefore, the opportunities for incorporating service-learning (carefully integrating community service with academic inquiry and reflecting on insights derived from such integration) into history courses abound. Many historians have taken advantage of this opportunity. Few historians have undertaken a scholarly investigation of the learning taking place in their service-learning courses, however. Indeed, despite the fact that the reflective process so central to service-learning lends itself remarkably well to the scholarship of teaching and learning (it generates very rich data on both the affective and content-based learning students are experiencing), there has been little published SoTL research from any discipline about service-learning. Drawing on qualitative evidence from an honours course comprised of 16 students at a private liberal arts college in the northeastern United States, I argue that not only does service-learning in history lead to more active citizenship, but that it also leads to deeper appreciation of an historical perspective as a key ingredient for being an engaged citizen.
Service learning and other engaged scholarship programmes ideally operate in an academic framework to enhance student understanding of citizenship and community engagement. In reality, given the constraints on institutional budgets, such programmes are likely to be underfunded and academically understaffed. Structured as choices on an institutional menu, programmes are routinely touted as transformative though what they transform may be indeterminate. The ways in which such programmes are presented encourage students to interpret transformation as personal experience, valued to the extent that students can do good in the world by acting as agents of progress, solving problems for people imagined to need their expertise, ideally in exotic settings as unlike students' routine lives as possible, while students develop skills and connections useful in their post-college careers. This construction of engaged scholarship readily lends itself to institutional promotional language but can undermine students' effective action in actual projects.
Marcela Vásquez-León, Brian Burke and Lucero Radonic
A critical interest of applied anthropology is to educate students to be theoretically grounded and capable of assuming a level of social responsibility that extends beyond academia. In this paper, we reflect on the issue of student preparation for work in the policy arena by focusing on the experiences of a five-year applied research project that examines agricultural cooperatives as situated agents of change and grassroots development. The project has completed three field seasons in Brazil and Paraguay in which student researchers, including anthropology graduate students from the University of Arizona and in-country undergraduate students from partner universities, have been an integral part. The paper focuses on strategies developed in the research process that enhance student learning. Community Based Research, learning to work through research teams, and creating community-university partnerships constitute the bases of a project that emphasises student learning in the process of doing research and forming collaborations.
Claire Cororaton and Richard Handler
This article documents and analyses the uneasy, if not contradictory, relationship between service learning and liberal arts thinking in an undergraduate programme in Global Development Studies (GDS) at a North American University. As an undergraduate, Cororaton participated in a service-learning project to build a greenhouse in Mongolia; at the same time, the curriculum of her major (GDS, a programme directed by Handler) was developing a critique of such service projects, focusing on their lack of political self-consciousness. The authors contextualise the story within the university's ongoing attempts to enhance its global profile.
Transnational higher education is the term that is most commonly used to describe programmes that allow students to obtain a degree from an overseas university in their local context. Such programmes are often marketed on their similarity with those offered at home by the overseas university. Perhaps as a consequence, the related literature focuses on 'problems' that are encountered in the 'other' environment, particularly when academic staff travel to the host country to deliver the teaching. Transnational programmes, however, offer rich opportunities for developing cultural capability in students and academics through a sensitively internationalised curriculum. This article uses an autoethnographic approach to discuss teaching and learning in transnational programmes that are delivered in a postcolonial context (Hong Kong) by a university that is in the former colonising country (U.K.). Its aim is to illustrate how, by embracing the complexities, transnational higher education programmes can enrich learning and teaching in both the host and the home context.
English-medium degree programmes are one of the trends within the internationalisation of higher education in Japan. The recent university internationalisation project, Project for Establishing University Network for Internationalization, or Global 30 is a good example. English-medium degree programmes attract a larger and more diverse international student population to study in Japan and create an on-campus international learning environment for both local and international students. This article aims to shed light on what attracts Japanese students to such an on-campus international learning experience and the kinds of challenges they face in taking English-medium courses. The results of my research show that English as a medium of instruction is a good tool to attract Japanese students, but the quality and relevance of what is being delivered are also significant. Japanese students are willing to challenge themselves in a different learning environment, but they tend to do so without seeking support, which in turn limits their learning.
In the tradition of anthropological reflexivity, this article examines how the structure of early doctoral training contributes to the construction of particular kinds of anthropologists. Based on research conducted in an anthropology department in the U.S.A. during the late 1990s, the experience of the transition from undergraduate to doctoral studies is explored as simultaneously a process of culture learning and culture making, with power relations expressed, imposed, and contested through language. The implications for questions animating current anthropological debates, including calls for 'public anthropology', are considered.
Ellen Bal, Erella Grassiani and Kate Kirk
This article is based on our own experiences and that of several of our colleagues teaching social and cultural anthropology in different Dutch institutions for higher learning. We focus in particular on teaching and learning in two small liberal arts and science (LAS) colleges, where anthropology makes up part of the social science curriculum and/or is part of the core curriculum. The data collected from our own critical reflections developed during informal discussion and from formal interviews with colleagues, together with literature on recent changes in academia, leads us to argue that neoliberal individualism, shaped by management tactics that constantly measure individual performance and output, is making academia an increasingly insecure place in which to work and study. The consequences of this insecurity include increasing mental health problems among both students and staff, intensifying competition at the expense of collegiality and collaboration and an overall decrease in the quality of academic jobs and teaching. Although the discipline of anthropology can help us better understand our own conditions, the personalisation of problems and the focus on success obscure the anthropological lens, which looks at social and cultural structures of power and depends on critical reflexivity.
Kearsley A. Stewart
Interest in short-term international placements in global health training for U.S.-based medical students is growing; the trend is mirrored for global health undergraduate students. Best practices in field-based global health training can increase success for medical students, but we lack a critical framework for the undergraduate global health field experience. In what ways does an undergraduate field experience in global health resemble a medical student's first international health elective? Is it more similar to a study-abroad programme or a service-learning experience with a focus on personal development, civic responsibility and community engagement? This article suggests that an undergraduate global health field experience contains features of both the international medical elective and a traditional service-learning programme. I analyse a case study of a short-term U.S.-based undergraduate global health project and explore the intersections of research, professional training and service learning.