Active democratic citizenship and service-learning in the postgraduate classroom

Harris, C. (2010) Active democratic citizenship and service-learning in the postgraduate classroom. Journal of Political Science Education, 6 (3). pp. 227-243. ISSN 15512169 (ISSN)


This article investigates the use of service-learning in teaching active democratic citizenship in the postgraduate classroom. In particular it draws on a case study of an MBS Government module (GV6104) entitled Political Participation and Mobilisation that explores the relationship between democracy and participation. Students of this module are trained in the nonpartisan, internationally respected Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VSPJ) voter education/active citizenship program and have delivered it to Irish and foreign nationals in community settings in advance of the 2009 European Parliament and Local Government elections. In order to critically evaluate the project this article investigates service-learning as a pedagogy reviewing the literature on the relationship between it and civic education and explores service-learning best practice. It evaluates the performance of the University College Cork (UCC) project against service-learning standards of best practice using data from the students' assessment of their servicelearning experience gathered from a survey; an analysis of their learning journals; and feedback from the community partners. It finds that the students overwhelmingly agree that the service-learning experience contributed to their civic education and recognizes the need for further scholarly work in an Irish context to ascertain the merits of this pedagogy and to mainstream it in Irish higher education. Copyright © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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