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Political Hermeneutics as Pedagogy: Service Learning, Political Reflection, and Action

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Abstract:

Not unlike most of my colleagues, an objective for teaching political theory is to develop characteristics of reflective citizenship among one’s students. This is a particular challenge when one is offering a course focused on the general education curriculum. Amid the debates surrounding competing notions of citizenship, social capital, and political critique, political theory confronts the practical conditions of our age: profound cynicism about civic and political engagement. Does citizenship matter? Discussions of political participation yield manifold expression of apathy that verges on despair of the significance of the political. Even as one encourages students to consider a critical theory of citizenship, their own experience and observation of the political realm suggests not so much the irrelevance of political theory as much as suspicion of thought itself. This paper examines potential avenues for the challenge of teaching the political theory of citizenship against the current political malaise that militates against and dis-empowers our students and their efforts to imagine any form of authentic political action.

Hannah Arendt examines the self-concept of the citizen as the one who can rule and can also be ruled. The goal appears to be the creation of a consciousness on the part of the citizen that they are both the author as well as the subject of the laws. For that matter, the citizen is in-terested and inter-ested in the matters of the polis. That is, the citizen has personal self-defined interests, the basic political assumption of liberal pluralism. But what is more, the citizen also has a civic republican interest in the common good of the polis.

For the past three years, I have offered a course in POLS 182 Citizenship that utilizes service learning pedagogy to facilitate a process by which the students can reflect on their own citizenship and perhaps attain a certain “consciousness” of it. This presentation will focus on my assessment of the learning outcomes demonstrated by my students in this general education course. In particular, I will discuss a variety of issues associated with student learning including: critical reflection as part of the service experience; awareness of social and economic issues affiliated with the service experience; and not least, student conceptions of citizenship as expressed in their final projects as well as other student products. What does it mean for these students to become “conscious” citizens? The longer term research question I introduce in the presentation is: do they, in fact, become active citizens?

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student (196), polit (108), learn (87), servic (86), cours (85), citizenship (82), reflect (72), ethic (51), experi (50), activ (47), requir (41), outcom (41), class (39), civic (39), morningsid (37), one (35), valu (33), read (32), communiti (32), approach (32), engag (31),

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service learning, civic engagement, citizenship, hermeneutics
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Association:
Name: APSA Teaching and Learning Conference
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http://www.apsanet.org


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MLA Citation:

McKinlay, Patrick. "Political Hermeneutics as Pedagogy: Service Learning, Political Reflection, and Action" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California, Feb 22, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245651_index.html>

APA Citation:

McKinlay, P. F. , 2008-02-22 "Political Hermeneutics as Pedagogy: Service Learning, Political Reflection, and Action" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245651_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Not unlike most of my colleagues, an objective for teaching political theory is to develop characteristics of reflective citizenship among one’s students. This is a particular challenge when one is offering a course focused on the general education curriculum. Amid the debates surrounding competing notions of citizenship, social capital, and political critique, political theory confronts the practical conditions of our age: profound cynicism about civic and political engagement. Does citizenship matter? Discussions of political participation yield manifold expression of apathy that verges on despair of the significance of the political. Even as one encourages students to consider a critical theory of citizenship, their own experience and observation of the political realm suggests not so much the irrelevance of political theory as much as suspicion of thought itself. This paper examines potential avenues for the challenge of teaching the political theory of citizenship against the current political malaise that militates against and dis-empowers our students and their efforts to imagine any form of authentic political action.

Hannah Arendt examines the self-concept of the citizen as the one who can rule and can also be ruled. The goal appears to be the creation of a consciousness on the part of the citizen that they are both the author as well as the subject of the laws. For that matter, the citizen is in-terested and inter-ested in the matters of the polis. That is, the citizen has personal self-defined interests, the basic political assumption of liberal pluralism. But what is more, the citizen also has a civic republican interest in the common good of the polis.

For the past three years, I have offered a course in POLS 182 Citizenship that utilizes service learning pedagogy to facilitate a process by which the students can reflect on their own citizenship and perhaps attain a certain “consciousness” of it. This presentation will focus on my assessment of the learning outcomes demonstrated by my students in this general education course. In particular, I will discuss a variety of issues associated with student learning including: critical reflection as part of the service experience; awareness of social and economic issues affiliated with the service experience; and not least, student conceptions of citizenship as expressed in their final projects as well as other student products. What does it mean for these students to become “conscious” citizens? The longer term research question I introduce in the presentation is: do they, in fact, become active citizens?

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