Encountering difficult knowledge: Service-learning with Sociology and Political Science undergraduates

Thumbnail Image
LC19_paper_10.pdf(103.77 KB)
Published Version
Tansey, Lorraine
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Community based learning or service learning is a dynamic pedagogical opportunity for students to engage with their discipline in light of social concerns. This presentation will share the key challenges sociology students and lecturer encounter when working with charities and nonprofits with social justice missions. Students are asked to face what Pitt and Britzman (2003) call “difficult knowledge” in classroom readings and discussions on complicity to poverty and racism. The community engagement experience with local charities allows for a dialogue with the scholarly literature grounded in practical experience. Sociology students are challenged to see the institutional and wider structural inequalities upstream while working in community with a direct service role downstream. Taylor (2013) describes student engagement within this type of teaching tool that is critical of the status quo. Hall et al. (2004) argue that the classroom is best placed to navigate this new terrain whereas student volunteering independently might not facilitate reflection and academic literature. Students with a wide variety of needs engage with communities in different ways and lecturers may need to adjust and demonstrate flexibility to facilitate all learning environments.
Community based learning , Service learning , Charities , Non-profit , Social justice , Poverty , Racism , Complicity , Community engagement , Inequalities , Reflection
Tansey, L. (2019) 'Encountering difficult knowledge: Service-learning with Sociology and Political Science undergraduates', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 136-140. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.27