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Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Fall 1999, pp. 63-73 Toward More Transformative Service-Learning: Experiences from An Urban Environmental Problem-Solving Class Wendy A. Kellogg Cleveland State University One concern that arises during student participation in urban service-learning is the often marked difference in life experience between university students and the people in the urban communities in which they serve, a diference which may have a detrimental effect on the experiences of students and community members alike. This paper describes use of a transformative service-learning model to design and implement an environmentally-focused service-learning class structured to sensitize students to the needs of the community and to enhance the community's capacity to resolve environmental problems. Service-Learning in Urban Neighborhoods Service-learning has been adopted throughout the American educational system, from grade school to university level, across a wide range of academic and professional disciplines (Kraft & Swadener, 1993; Leon, 1993). This article focuses on the use of service-learning as a pedagogical method in universities and, more particularly, for its usefulness in projects and programs in communities in the urban core. Tensions can arise between universities and the communities in which they exist. Such tensions can be overt, for example, as university facilities seek to expand into urban neighborhoods (Harkavy 1993a; Harkavy & Puckett, 1992). Tension can also be less obvious, as a result of a growing sense in the community that the university, with its wealth of resources, does not contribute to the community (Boyer, 1996). University-community tensions may also develop when residents feel they have been "studied" long enough without accruing a benefit or seeing change (Sustainable Cleveland Partnership, 1997). Service-learning classes, like any other activities that intervene in community conditions and processes, give rise to a set of political and ethical issues that need to be examined prior to the students' work in the community. These include the university's role in community, the differences between students and community residents and organizations, and the apparent political or economic intractability of urban problems. Each of these three issues is briefly discussed below. The role of the university in society at large has waxed and waned throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The mission of early American universities was the moral and intellectual development of students to prepare "new generations for civic...leadership" (Boyer, 1990, p. 3), contributing to community well-being through the intellectual and moral growth of students. By the 1870s and 1880s, professors began to conduct basic and applied research that helped to reshape American society into an industrial power. By the turn of the century, however, an emphasis on basic research and knowledge for knowledge sake overshadowed the role of the university as a teaching institution and, in some cases, even its role to provide service to society through applied research (Boyer, 1990; Boyer, 1996). The most recent shift in higher education, beginning in the 1960s and currently re-invigorated by initiatives at the national level (Gorham 1992) reemphasizes a return to the university's mission to use knowledge to improve societal conditions (Boyer, 1990; Boyer, 1996; Harkavy & Puckett, 1992). This shift also stresses education for citizenship and civic responsibility (Barber, 1994; Boyte, 1993). Many "urban universities" were created in the 1960s during the early part of this renaissance. Their dual role was to educate urban community members and to work to improve social, physical and economic conditions in their respective cities. Urban universities were also established to overcome the psychological and often physical separation between the academy and the urban residents who lived around them (Harkavy, 1993a, 1993b; Reardon, 1994). Cleveland State University (CSU) was founded in 1964 as one of Ohio's designated "urban universities." Today, CSU encourages opportunities for experiential learning through student internships, 63
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