Rather than starting with an emphasis on student learning, tacking on some service, talking about community, and pretending about change, the liberating service learning philosophy is the complete and total inverse. It starts with change--progressive social change that reduces power and resource inequalities and allows everyone to grow to their full potential. Part of that change is working torward restoring real community. The service, then, is about the work we do toward those ends. The learning is what everyone participating needs to know to effectively work toward those ends, and what we come to know through the process of achieving those ends. That transposition stands everything on its head. Students don't come first when I take this standpoint. The curriculum does not take priority. The discipline does not exert control. The institution is not the source of direction.Our students can learn from the standpoint I am proposing, but the purpose is not student learning. Our faculty can get publications, but the purpose is not to pad faculty resumes. Our institutions can benefit, but the purpose of the practice is not to benefit our institutions.
Randy's mission statement:To build constituency power to create social change and work toward community by facilitating access to our knowledge resources, including faculty, staff, and students.
Putting Liberal Service Learning into Practice
Step 1. Find constituency-led efforts with social change goals, or help them develop goals and identify knowledge projects that can help achieve goals.
- Allyship = become involved with a constituency as a human being first rather than as a professor or as a student
- knowledge projects = goal-directed information-gathering and knowledge-developing activities that have a clear staring point, milestones, and end point
- substantive knowledge vs strategic knowledge = understand the political context in which the knowledge/information might be used
Step 2. Find higher education resources that can support the projects and moblize those resources to do the projects to achieve the goals
- a campus allyship underground may be the best practice... it is difficult to figure out what to do so as to not produce new oppresions, exploitations, and exclusions. But the solution to the many and deep philosophical and strategic dilemmas involved in organizing the progressive society will not result from academics sitting around arguing about them. The solutions will come from everyone being fully involved and fully influential in the process of creating the progressive society: everyone a learner, everyone a teacher, everyone a leader.