In the academy, words are currency. We read, write, listen, convince, argue, persuade, and/or prove. For those seeking to foster community-engaged teaching and learning, however, words can create echo chambers, slow us down, and facilitate inaction. Service-learning and community-engaged practices are also based in words and scholarship, but in this model of the engaged university, it doesn’t end there.
The theme organizing Duke Service-Learning this year invites us to consider how service-learning and community-engaged practices and practitioners are charged with engaging, challenging, and moving beyond words. We can, and do, talk at length about challenges and injustices of our 21st century world, from white supremacy and racial injustice to the housing crisis, underfunded schools, climate inaction, and wealth disparities. How can we move from so much talk to action and in the process meeting community members’ drive for change? Our challenges include sharing institutional resources in respectful, generative ways and developing students ready to leave our institution with models for social change and a sense of efficacy for engagement and action.
We are spared from having to recreate the wheel to imagine models of social change as Campus Compact’s Social Change Wheel offers a way to move beyond dissecting words to give us points of entry for transforming words into action and engagement. Join us as we move Beyond the Discourse: Words become Action.
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