Integrating Service Learning and Multicultural Education in Colleges and Universities

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

Afterword

Carolyn R. O'Grady Gustavus Adolphus College

Can higher education successfully incorporate and integrate multicultural education and service learning? The authors in this book share an optimism that it may be possible, while understanding the obstacles that reinforce the status quo in colleges and universities. The academy is an essentially conservative institution, and it is easy for those who work within it to become cautious and even disillusioned. Institutional norms, including the faculty review and reward system, the hierarchical nature of power between professor and student, and the emphasis on cognitive knowledge as preeminent, may limit the kinds of risks faculty are willing to take in their teaching or advocacy for educational change. The traditional distance the academy has had from the larger community of which it is a part can reinforce the isolation faculty may feel from the real-world context of their work. As Rob Shumer noted, the institutional framework of higher education places the academy, not the community, at the center, and consequently reinforces the notion that power is held only by the academy. Shumer said, "The curriculum does not reflect reality. We need to understand better that we're all part of the community. The old notion that universities should be separate, that the definition of academic is theoretical, not practical, value -- we need to challenge those notions" (as quoted in Stanton, Giles, & Cruz, 1999, pp. 224-225).

We must not forget Palmer's ( 1990) reminder that community is essentially about relatedness. It is this belief in our connectedness to

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