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A Value Added Model of Service Learning in Political Science Courses
Unformatted Document Text:  and sustain lasting relationships between students and the communities in which they are involved. To that end, students see themselves not just as temporary outsiders, but as fellow community members sharing in common problems and working toward common solutions. Students also learn to take seriously members of the community as fellow citizens representing diverse points of view. The public research model that we are proposing builds on these efforts to promote stronger communities, but does so by focusing on the specific skills that can be taught in political science courses. Such skills are potentially a powerful way of generating community building knowledge. 3. SERVICE LEARNING AS POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT Service learning projects typically favor local grass roots organizations, often those committed to advocacy work disadvantaged groups in society. The emphasis, as we might expect, is on face-to-face association where participation is immediate and direct. This preoccupation with service learning on the level of community involvement has left unexamined the way in which service learning may contribute to the student’s ability to understand and act within a larger political arena and to pay adequate attention to how larger social and political forces. Of particular importance is how we educate students to participate in national citizens groups that are avowedly political organization whose primary purpose is to represent not “members” but financial supporters in the political process. Such groups speak to policy makers on their own behalf. The emphasis is place on representation rather than participation: “The representation that is carried out by national citizen groups is more than a complement to people’s civic engagement in their own communities. People who join a national citizen group are 13

Authors: Borick, Christopher. and Gambino, Giacomo.
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and sustain lasting relationships between students and the communities in which they are
involved. To that end, students see themselves not just as temporary outsiders, but as
fellow community members sharing in common problems and working toward common
solutions. Students also learn to take seriously members of the community as fellow
citizens representing diverse points of view.
The public research model that we are proposing builds on these efforts to
promote stronger communities, but does so by focusing on the specific skills that can be
taught in political science courses. Such skills are potentially a powerful way of
generating community building knowledge.
3. SERVICE LEARNING AS POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT
Service learning projects typically favor local grass roots organizations, often
those committed to advocacy work disadvantaged groups in society. The emphasis, as
we might expect, is on face-to-face association where participation is immediate and
direct. This preoccupation with service learning on the level of community involvement
has left unexamined the way in which service learning may contribute to the student’s
ability to understand and act within a larger political arena and to pay adequate attention
to how larger social and political forces. Of particular importance is how we educate
students to participate in national citizens groups that are avowedly political organization
whose primary purpose is to represent not “members” but financial supporters in the
political process. Such groups speak to policy makers on their own behalf. The
emphasis is place on representation rather than participation: “The representation that is
carried out by national citizen groups is more than a complement to people’s civic
engagement in their own communities. People who join a national citizen group are
13


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