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A Value Added Model of Service Learning in Political Science Courses
Unformatted Document Text:  voluntary associations opens a sphere of shared community interests that allow students to participate in dialogue on the nature of the common good. It presents in practical and concrete terms the understanding of how associational life underlies democratic practices, and provides intermediary structures linking individual and state, and promotes engagement through joint action. Involvement in associational life is based on the assumption that we should engage in face-to-face interaction with our neighbors, working with them to govern ourselves rather than relying on the decision of elected officials acting on our behalf. Such face-to-face interaction makes us better citizens because it teaches us about the communities in which we live, interacting and cooperating with others who are different but who may share common concerns. These forms of participation do not include simply an overtly political activity, but all kinds of communal activities (food banks, tutoring, mounting a stage production on issues of diversity, improving neighbor organizations for young people). The emphasis in this model of community building is not just on “service” per se; it can also be directed toward community “action.” A good example of this orientation is represented by Public Achievement (University of Minnesota) which trains young people to engage into community “works” aimed at directly improving the neighborhood. Hence, public works is action oriented: “the visible effort of ordinary citizens who cooperatively produce and sustain things of lasting importance in our community, nation, or world. Public work solves common problems and creates common things …” (Building Worlds, Transforming Lives, Making History: A Guide to Public Involvement). Such community action projects are successful insofar as they generate 12

Authors: Borick, Christopher. and Gambino, Giacomo.
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voluntary associations opens a sphere of shared community interests that allow students
to participate in dialogue on the nature of the common good. It presents in practical and
concrete terms the understanding of how associational life underlies democratic practices,
and provides intermediary structures linking individual and state, and promotes
engagement through joint action.
Involvement in associational life is based on the assumption that we should
engage in face-to-face interaction with our neighbors, working with them to govern
ourselves rather than relying on the decision of elected officials acting on our behalf.
Such face-to-face interaction makes us better citizens because it teaches us about the
communities in which we live, interacting and cooperating with others who are different
but who may share common concerns. These forms of participation do not include
simply an overtly political activity, but all kinds of communal activities (food banks,
tutoring, mounting a stage production on issues of diversity, improving neighbor
organizations for young people).
The emphasis in this model of community building is not just on “service” per se;
it can also be directed toward community “action.” A good example of this orientation is
represented by Public Achievement (University of Minnesota) which trains young people
to engage into community “works” aimed at directly improving the neighborhood.
Hence, public works is action oriented: “the visible effort of ordinary citizens who
cooperatively produce and sustain things of lasting importance in our community, nation,
or world. Public work solves common problems and creates common things
…” (Building Worlds, Transforming Lives, Making History: A Guide to Public
Involvement). Such community action projects are successful insofar as they generate
12


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