“Engaging Place as Partner” by Cheryl K. Siemers, Barbara Harrison, Patti H. Clayton, and Talmage A. Stanley


Twenty years ago Zlotkowski (1995) called for strategic change in the service-learning (SL) movement: an intentional and rigorous focus on integration within academic disciplines, a “broad-based adjustment that invests far more intellectual energy in specifically academic concerns” (p. 123). For all its compelling moral and ideological values, to secure the future of SL Zlotkowski asserted that we had to further establish the pedagogy’s “critical depth and intellectual compass” and its relevance to the academic curriculum (p. 124). Since this landmark article, some have suggested this focus has produced a “remarkably apolitical” (Saltmarsh, Hartley, & Clayton, 2009, p. 5) orientation to service-learning and community engagement (SLCE) and have called for a renewed emphasis on the explicitly political, structural, and civic dimensions of the work so as to maximize its contribution to a more just and caring world (see Hartman in this collection of essays). Analogously and relatedly, we see a pedagogy that, too often, is remarkably “a-place” or place-neutral – uninformed by the particulars of the place and the people, the land and the history. We are interested in the ways in which an intentionally “place-rich” (High, Siemers, & Downing, 2015) approach to SLCE might deepen its civic learning and public good outcomes, especially in the context of the intertwined local roots and global connections that characterize citizenship in the 21st century.

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