Document Type


Publication Date






Publication Title

Education and Urban Society

First Page


Last Page



Homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, hunger, teen pregnancy, youth violence, and marginalization of the disabled are but a few of the complex social issues that continue to plague urban America. They are also issues that attract the attention of student service providers involved in service-learning programs across the country (Education Commission of the States, 1994). However, few of the higher education service-learning courses focus on the investigation of the needs of the individuals included in these groups in the urban community, and even fewer build service--learning projects around a model that is accountable for the results of the service experience on the service recipient (Maybach, 1995). The focus of the majority of research on effectiveness of service-learning projects has instead been on the growth of the student. Thus, despite the complexity of the issues of service, students are encouraged to engage in service provision without a clear understanding of how their service is affecting the communities around them. Without an accountability for or an understanding of the needs of the individuals in the urban community, the effects of service-learning projects may indeed be viewed as malevolent by the very individuals whose lives the service was intended to enhance, despite the best of good intentions. This article attempts to offer an alternative model of service learning, designed to enhance the practice through exploration of issues of oppression, individual voice, empowerment, and social justice.


© 1996 Sage Publications. Inc.