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Political Hermeneutics as Pedagogy: Service Learning, Political Reflection, and Action
Unformatted Document Text:  population flows that result from globalization and intra-state political, social, economic, and ecological crises, Western political theory tends to remain fixated on citizen as subject and author of legitimate authority in a republican form of government. In my courses, I introduce students to some of these other dimensions of citizenship, but mostly as they inform student efforts to construct personal conception of their own citizenship. Much work has also focused on the evolving accumulation of social capital in various societies. Among these perspectives, I find Hannah Arendt’s examination of the self-concept of the citizen as the one who can rule and can also be ruled as the most elegant approach to introduce to students. For Arendt, 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. The dual quality of this definition of citizenship captures both liberal and classical civic republican conceptions of citizenship. I also rely heavily upon Derek Heater’s valuable contributions to both tracking the historical evolution of citizenship as well as its more contemporary manifestations in diverse political systems. Taking this broad view of citizenship for the purpose of my pedagogy leaves open many doors for students to find their own pathways for experience and reflection. Given that so many will bring experiences in a variety of kinds of community service, students will immediately depart from these experiences as foundational to their conceptions of political citizenship. Nonetheless, their respective conceptions of their political citizenship remain under-thematized and pre-reflective. Most often there is virtually no self-concept of agency or voice. 2 In a sense, this discussion invokes the old Marxist concept of false consciousness. Instead of employing traditional class consciousness as a spark to ignite political action, the issue is consciousness of citizenship itself. What does it mean for me to be a citizen? I am reminded also of Rousseau’s categories of citizenship and the laws; that is, how am “I” both a citizen and a subject? Learning Outcomes Morningside College faculty conducted a thorough review of our curriculum and developed an outcomes based curriculum inspired by the College mission and visions statements. The curriculum intends that students will demonstrate these college outcomes through their performance in their majors, clusters, and completion of general education courses associated with several core competencies. Our mission statement indicates several of these outcomes with profound clarity: The Morningside College experience cultivates a passion for life-long learning and a dedication to ethical leadership and civic responsibility. have also been informed by Ronald Beiner’s great collection of essays in Theorizing Citizenship (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1995) and Richard Dagger’s effort to bring together what he call republican liberalism in Civic Virtues: Rights, Citizenship, and Republican Liberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). 2 Each time I teach this course, I conduct a pre-service survey to gather some basic data about their community service prior to this course. Rarely do I find evidence of active duty-based civic engagement (Dalton 2008). McKinlay 5

Authors: McKinlay, Patrick.
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population flows that result from globalization and intra-state political, social, economic, and
ecological crises, Western political theory tends to remain fixated on citizen as subject and
author of legitimate authority in a republican form of government. In my courses, I introduce
students to some of these other dimensions of citizenship, but mostly as they inform student
efforts to construct personal conception of their own citizenship. Much work has also focused on
the evolving accumulation of social capital in various societies.
Among these perspectives, I find Hannah Arendt’s examination of the self-concept of the
citizen as the one who can rule and can also be ruled as the most elegant approach to introduce to
students. For Arendt, 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. The dual quality of
this definition of citizenship captures both liberal and classical civic republican conceptions of
citizenship. I also rely heavily upon Derek Heater’s valuable contributions to both tracking the
historical evolution of citizenship as well as its more contemporary manifestations in diverse
political systems.
Taking this broad view of citizenship for the purpose of my pedagogy leaves open many
doors for students to find their own pathways for experience and reflection. Given that so many
will bring experiences in a variety of kinds of community service, students will immediately
depart from these experiences as foundational to their conceptions of political citizenship.
Nonetheless, their respective conceptions of their political citizenship remain under-thematized
and pre-reflective. Most often there is virtually no self-concept of agency or voice.
In a sense, this discussion invokes the old Marxist concept of false consciousness.
Instead of employing traditional class consciousness as a spark to ignite political action, the issue
is consciousness of citizenship itself. What does it mean for me to be a citizen? I am reminded
also of Rousseau’s categories of citizenship and the laws; that is, how am “I” both a citizen and a
subject?
Learning Outcomes
Morningside College faculty conducted a thorough review of our curriculum and
developed an outcomes based curriculum inspired by the College mission and visions statements.
The curriculum intends that students will demonstrate these college outcomes through their
performance in their majors, clusters, and completion of general education courses associated
with several core competencies. Our mission statement indicates several of these outcomes with
profound clarity:
The Morningside College experience cultivates a passion for life-long learning and a dedication
to ethical leadership and civic responsibility.
have also been informed by Ronald Beiner’s great collection of essays in Theorizing Citizenship (Albany, NY:
SUNY Press, 1995) and Richard Dagger’s effort to bring together what he call republican liberalism in Civic
Virtues: Rights, Citizenship, and Republican Liberalism
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
2
Each time I teach this course, I conduct a pre-service survey to gather some basic data about their community
service prior to this course. Rarely do I find evidence of active duty-based civic engagement (Dalton 2008).
McKinlay 5


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