Teaching and learning active citizenship – an investigation of service learning in the postgraduate classroom

Harris, Clodagh (2008) Teaching and learning active citizenship – an investigation of service learning in the postgraduate classroom. [Conference Proceedings]


This paper will investigate the use of service learning in teaching active citizenship in the postgraduate classroom. Recognising that service learning ' is an academic strategy that seeks to engage students in activities that enhance academic learning, civic responsiblity and the skill of citizenship, while also enhancing community capacity through service' (Furco and Holland, 2004:27) this paper will critically analyse the impact of service learning in the NAIRTL funded project 'The active citizenship approach to teaching and learning active citizenship: Integrating research, teaching and learning in the postgraduate classroom'.The project forms part of a module entitled ‘the dynamics of public participation’ that explores the relationship between democracy and participation and examines theories of active democratic citizenship, empowerment, and political participation. It centres on training students of the MBS Government/MA Politics in the internationally respected Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VSPJ) voter awareness/voter education active citizenship programme. Students of this programme have delivered it in Cork prison in advance of the General Election 2007 and will deliver it in the Carrigtwohill SVP family resource centre in advance of the 2009 European and Local elections. The proposed paper will evaluate the impact of the project assessing if it meets its learning outcomes and asking if it offers students an opportunity to integrate and relate theory to practice and advance their civic engagement as is in keeping with the tradition of service learning. It will also document the challenges of assessing service learning and the integration of the students’ research into their teaching and learning.

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