Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Do Service-Learning Students Picture Their Community?

by Ann Abbott

"Where is the line between 'us' and 'them'? Between 'our community' and 'you people'?"

This is the opening line from an article written about the research findings of Prof. Cara Wong, a political scientist at the University of Illinois.  She states that people's ideas about who belongs to their in-group go beyond black-white or Republican-Democrat; it depends on how they identify their community and what groups belong to that community.  (Click on the link to read the article; it provides really good examples, including a comparison of how Baton Rouge and Houston received--and conceived of--New Orleans refugees after Katrina.)

I would love to collaborate with Prof. Wong to research how our Spanish community service learning (CSL) students assimilate (or not) the community members they encounter during their CSL work into their own concept of community.  It seems to me that a pre-test and post-test could lead us toward a preliminary understanding of this.

What research do you think should be done about or through Spanish CSL?  CSL in general?

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