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Kalamazoo College


“Critical service-learning” shapes our vision for community-engaged learning here at the CCE.  Whether in courses, co-curricular programs that our Civic Engagement Scholars lead, or Community Building Internships with our local partners (link to CBIs on CCPD page), we embrace the principles Dr. Tania Mitchell articulated in her seminal article, “Traditional vs. Critical Service-Learning: Engaging the Literature to Differentiate Two Models” (2008), in which she describes critical service learning as “unapologetic in its aim to dismantle systems of injustice (p. 50).” We aspire for all of our projects and programs to be characterized by 1) working to redistribute power among all partners; 2) developing authentic relationships in the classroom and community; and 3) working from a social change perspective.  

In a charity or service model, persons, organizations and communities are perceived as lacking; those with power and resources can share or give them “give” them to another   In critical community-based learning, we create the conditions in which students and community members can learn from one another, and co-create knowledge, through experience, that can be transformative for each of us individually and for our communities.   This means ongoing dialogue and critical question-posing, especially around issues of power and privilege. It means challenging the traditional service-learning paradigm of “the community as the domain of the problem and the college as the domain of the solution” (Yapa, 1996 – Cited in Morton, Keith; Bergbauer, Samantha, “A Case for Community: Starting with Relationships and Prioritizing Community as Method in Service-Learning,” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Volume 22, Issue 1, Fall 2015).

The following are a selection of articles that inform the Center for Civic Engagement’s approach.  This page is not meant to be comprehensive but a dynamic resource for faculty, students, staff, and community members.

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