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Political Hermeneutics as Pedagogy: Service Learning, Political Reflection, and Action
Unformatted Document Text:  As the political science department considered its response to the curricular challenge of delivering an outcomes-based curriculum, we also considered what appropriate role we should play in delivering several of the general education curriculum courses (called rubrics as they were intended to be provided for by diverse departments using courses with spectrum of content but common major learning outcomes). Furthermore, the faculty included a graduation requirement that each student complete a course that utilized service learning as substantial pedagogy within the course. Many majors planned on introducing an upper level course within the major which would fulfill this requirement; however, many students looked for opportunities to get this requirement “out of the way” (clearly a sound educational motive) early in their educational career. The curriculum also has a specific rubric focused on “Ethics and Personal Values.” 3 As one might guess from the research informing the paper so far, I have had a long concern with the issue of civic responsibility and the question as to whether we at Morningside were indeed cultivating it. Indeed, I agree with Nesteruk (2007) that faculty must endeavor to “ennoble” rather than “enable” their students to consider what they value and why. Such a process requires hybrid of pedagogies, especially since service learning is a key ingredient in the process. I therefore volunteered to create POLS 182 Citizenship largely for the purpose of general education students rather than strictly for political science majors. I will admit that deciding to create a 100 level course for anyone can relieve one of disciplinary constraints, even while imposing almost unlimited possibilities for content selection and course design. Formally, the course then was required to meet the conditions for two areas: 1. Ethics and Personal Values. The course was required to introduce students to at least two or more ethical approaches. Students were expected to demonstrate understanding of at least two approaches and be able to apply them to cases appropriately. Furthermore, students should demonstrate specific reflection on their personal beliefs and values in light of these ethical approaches. 2. Service Learning. Students were required to complete a substantial service learning project which met a community defined need through 10 or more hours of direct service to the community. The project requires oral and written reflection. I selected the following course objectives: 1. To appropriately apply different ethical theories to problems confronting citizens and communities 2. To identify different models of citizenship 3. To define and apply a personal conception of civic responsibility and citizenship4. To improve communication skills, particularly critical writing and oral presentation skills These objectives are designed to meet the criteria specified by our curriculum and monitored by our Curriculum Policies Committee. The faculty designed the process to encourage maximum experimentation on the part of faculty while retaining our commitment to student learning outcomes. The proof in the pudding, if you will, would come through assessment. This 3 See Appendix A for a summary of the Morningside College Learning Outcomes and a brief summary of Morningside’s General Education Program and graduation requirements. McKinlay 6

Authors: McKinlay, Patrick.
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As the political science department considered its response to the curricular challenge of
delivering an outcomes-based curriculum, we also considered what appropriate role we should
play in delivering several of the general education curriculum courses (called rubrics as they
were intended to be provided for by diverse departments using courses with spectrum of content
but common major learning outcomes). Furthermore, the faculty included a graduation
requirement that each student complete a course that utilized service learning as substantial
pedagogy within the course. Many majors planned on introducing an upper level course within
the major which would fulfill this requirement; however, many students looked for opportunities
to get this requirement “out of the way” (clearly a sound educational motive) early in their
educational career.
The curriculum also has a specific rubric focused on “Ethics and Personal Values.”
As
one might guess from the research informing the paper so far, I have had a long concern with the
issue of civic responsibility and the question as to whether we at Morningside were indeed
cultivating it. Indeed, I agree with Nesteruk (2007) that faculty must endeavor to “ennoble”
rather than “enable” their students to consider what they value and why. Such a process requires
hybrid of pedagogies, especially since service learning is a key ingredient in the process. I
therefore volunteered to create POLS 182 Citizenship largely for the purpose of general
education students rather than strictly for political science majors. I will admit that deciding to
create a 100 level course for anyone can relieve one of disciplinary constraints, even while
imposing almost unlimited possibilities for content selection and course design.
Formally, the course then was required to meet the conditions for two areas:
1. Ethics and Personal Values. The course was required to introduce students to at least two or
more ethical approaches. Students were expected to demonstrate understanding of at least
two approaches and be able to apply them to cases appropriately. Furthermore, students
should demonstrate specific reflection on their personal beliefs and values in light of these
ethical approaches.
2. Service Learning. Students were required to complete a substantial service learning project
which met a community defined need through 10 or more hours of direct service to the
community. The project requires oral and written reflection.
I selected the following course objectives:
1. To appropriately apply different ethical theories to problems confronting citizens and
communities
2. To identify different models of citizenship
3. To define and apply a personal conception of civic responsibility and citizenship
4. To improve communication skills, particularly critical writing and oral presentation skills
These objectives are designed to meet the criteria specified by our curriculum and monitored
by our Curriculum Policies Committee. The faculty designed the process to encourage
maximum experimentation on the part of faculty while retaining our commitment to student
learning outcomes. The proof in the pudding, if you will, would come through assessment. This
3
See Appendix A for a summary of the Morningside College Learning Outcomes and a brief summary of
Morningside’s General Education Program and graduation requirements.
McKinlay 6


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