Integrating Service Learning and Multicultural Education in Colleges and Universities

By Carolyn R. O'Grady | Go to book overview

Preface

Attention in higher education to the fields of service learning and multicultural education has exploded since the late 1980s, with more colleges and universities requiring graduation requirements focusing on diversity issues, or on community service, or on both. However, little has been done by theorists or practitioners in either field to make explicit connections between the two pedagogies, a surprising lack for two approaches that share so many fundamental perspectives on education and society. This book is an attempt to forge a dialogue among practitioners of service learning and of multicultural education, and points the way toward promising means of integrating the best of each.

The changes in our nation's demographics as well as the ongoing debate about educational reform make a dialogue about service learning and multicultural education especially important at this time. Although there is no panacea for the troubles that beset our society and our schools, the stronger the coalitions that are forged among those working for educational change, the more effective and long-lasting that change will be. This book offers one avenue for creating connections between multicultural education and service learning practitioners who are at the forefront of educational change efforts. Higher education faculty, administrators, or staff who are involved with or interested in service learning, community-school partnerships, multiultural education, and/or diversity initiatives will find this book particularly valuable in providing theoretical underpinnings for the integration of service learning and multicultural education, with practical approaches for this integration.

The impetus for this book stems from my commitment to multicultural education for social justice. This approach is described in more detail in chapter 1 and is marked not only by cognitive learning, but also incorporates an activist component that I believe is best met through service learning. This approach provides not only a better educational experience for all students, but also builds their capacity for active citizenship to change the world for the better.

Academic study alone reveals only a surface understanding of the complexity of another culture ( Berry, 1990). However, practical community-based experience alone is also insufficient, allowing for easy dismissal of a culture by those who focus only on perceived weak

-xiii-

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