Document Type

Article

Language

eng

Publication Date

1-4-2019

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice

Source ISSN

1949-6605

Abstract

Contemporary higher education leaders continue to deem the development of civic-minded graduates as among the primary goals of postsecondary education (Astin, 1996Astin, H. S. (1996). Leadership for social change. About Campus, 1(3), 4–10. doi:10.1002/abc.v1.3[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]; Cress, Burack, Giles, Elkins, & Stevens, 2010Cress, C., Burack, C., Giles, D. E., Elkins, J. E., & Stevens, M. C. (2010). A promising connection: Increasing college access and success through civic engagement. Boston, MA: Campus Compact. [Google Scholar]; Hurtado, Ruiz, & Whang, 2012Hurtado, S., Ruiz, A., & Whang, H. (2012). Assessing student social responsibility and civic learning. Paper presented at the 2012 Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research, New Orleans, Louisiana. [Google Scholar]). Today’s undergraduates are poised to engage with their communities in numbers greater than their predecessors in previous generations, believing it is their responsibility to make society better (Kiesa et al., 2007Kiesa, A., Orlowski, A. P., Levine, P., Both, D., Kirby, E. H., Lopez, M. H., & Marcelo, K. B. (2007). Millennials talk politics: A study of college student political engagement. New York, NY: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. [Google Scholar]). In 2012, more than two-thirds of postsecondary students reported participation in community service over the past year, despite their overwhelming disillusionment with the United States government and social institutions (Levine & Dean, 2012Levine, A., & Dean, D. R. (2012). Generation on a tightrope: A portrait of today’s college student. San Francisco, CA: Wiley. [Google Scholar])

Civic engagement lacks a common definition in the literature (Jacoby, 2009Jacoby, B. (Ed.). (2009). Civic engagement in higher education: Concepts and practices. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. [Google Scholar]), however it typically includes involvement in the community with the purpose of “enhancing students’ understanding of civic life” (Cress et al., 2010Cress, C., Burack, C., Giles, D. E., Elkins, J. E., & Stevens, M. C. (2010). A promising connection: Increasing college access and success through civic engagement. Boston, MA: Campus Compact. [Google Scholar], p. 4). A growing body of research raised concerns with community service, service-learning, and other forms of civic engagement as reinforcing stereotypes (Dooley & Burant, 2015Dooley, J. C., & Burant, T. J. (2015). Lessons from pre-service teachers: Under the surface of service learning. In O. Delano-Oriaran, M. Penick-Parks, & S. Fondrie (Eds.), Service-learning and civic engagement: A sourcebook (pp. 325–332). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]). These studies urged greater care when designing community involvement opportunities, including attention to students’ development and previous experience, meaningful curricular connections, and adequate contextualization and reflection (Dooley & Burant, 2015Dooley, J. C., & Burant, T. J. (2015). Lessons from pre-service teachers: Under the surface of service learning. In O. Delano-Oriaran, M. Penick-Parks, & S. Fondrie (Eds.), Service-learning and civic engagement: A sourcebook (pp. 325–332). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]).

Some campuses have linked social justice to civic engagement to advance students’ knowledge about inequity, thus moving them away from a savior orientation (Dooley & Burant, 2015Dooley, J. C., & Burant, T. J. (2015). Lessons from pre-service teachers: Under the surface of service learning. In O. Delano-Oriaran, M. Penick-Parks, & S. Fondrie (Eds.), Service-learning and civic engagement: A sourcebook (pp. 325–332). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]) and deepening their understanding of the experience (Prentice, 2007Prentice, M. (2007). Service-learning and civic engagement. Academic Questions, 20(2), 135–145. doi:10.1007/s12129-007-9005-y[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]). Although conceptualized in varying ways, for this article social justice is defined as work toward ending the system of oppression giving certain social groups greater privilege and power over other groups (Broido, 2000Broido, E. M. (2000). The development of social justice allies during college: A phenomenological investigation. Journal of College Student Development, 41(1), 3–18.[Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]). When coupled, the terms civic engagement and social justice often indicate the educators’ desire to situate students in their broader communities and increase their awareness of social inequity, which may inspire them to work for social change at the individual, cultural, and institutional levels (Boyle-Baise & Langford, 2004Boyle-Baise, M., & Langford, J. (2004). There are children here: Service learning for social justice. Equity & Excellence in Education, 37(1), 55–66. doi:10.1080/10665680490422115[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]).

Living–learning communities (LLCs) are increasingly utilized to deepen and cohere students’ collegiate experiences (Matthews, Smith, & MacGregor, 2012Matthews, R. S., Smith, B. L., & MacGregor, J. (2012). The evolution of learning communities: A retrospective. In K. Buch & K. E. Barron (Eds.), New directions for teaching and learning: No. 132. Discipline centered learning communities (pp. 99–111). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]). Although variation exists in thematic and organizational type, these communities typically group students together in a residence hall, offer a shared academic experience, and provide co-curricular activities related to a theme (Inkelas & Soldner, 2011Inkelas, K. K., & Soldner, M. (2011). Undergraduate living–learning programs and student outcomes. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, 26, 1–55.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]). Social justice LLCs, which focus on increasing students’ awareness of social inequity and providing them with opportunities to work for social change, are often found on college campuses (Inkelas, 2007Associates; Inkelas, K. K. (2007). National study of living–learning programs: 2007 report of findings. College Park, MD: Authors. [Google Scholar]). Yet little formal research has been done that explores the impact of these communities on students. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore students’ experiences throughout their time in a social justice-focused LLC (hereafter referred by the pseudonym SJLLC) and one year after participation, focusing on how students described their participation in SJLLC and what aspects of the LLC had a lasting impression on them.

Comments

Published version. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, Vol. 56, No. 2 (2019): 194-206. DOI. © 2019 Taylor & Francis. Used with permission.

Available for download on Monday, January 06, 2020

Included in

Education Commons

Share

COinS