Research Initiative: Justice Learning - The Integration of Service-Learning and Social Justice Practices  

Service-learning literature is deeply engaging with justice or “critical” frameworks. However, the implementation of these approaches is hampered by a lack of support necessary for the pedagogy and programming aligned with these principles. Butin in 2014 summed up the state of service-learning by saying “dreaming of justice may be distinctly different from, and in no way to be assumed as equivalent to, the enactment of justice.” In the same article Butin goes further to say that “few faculty members know how to structure such service-learning practices into meaningful and sustainable practices that foster respect and reciprocity to their local communities.”

At Duke University, we have been seeking to address this need through creating a critical service-learning self-assessment and integrated resource tool for faculty looking for support in implementing critical or justice oriented service-learning. Our tool is built on the idea that social justice service-learning is both a process and an outcome, and thus the tool supports faculty in integrating the pedagogy, academic content, and praxis of implementing critical service-learning. Our tool offers an invitation for faculty to reflect on their practices and alternative structures that could be employed, without the expectation that any faculty would implement all of the suggestions. This allows us to support faculty through a gradual and scaffolded approach to incorporating critical service-learning.

If you are interested in learning more about this project please contact Dane Emmerling at dane.emmerling@duke.edu.