Embodied Cognition, Ethics, & Service Learning: How to Strengthen Service Learning Theory and Practice

Dr. Monica Cowart
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Utter the word ‘service-learning’ to a group of professors and you will instantly see the room divide into two distinct camps-- those who extol its virtues and those who question its place in academia. The advocates claim that service-learning will make theoretical concepts more readily accessible (Mabry 1998), encourage future community involvement, combat oppressive stereotypes, revitalize communities and ultimately bring about social change (Morton 1995). Critics argue that service-learning exploits poor, minority communities (Harkavy 1996), lacks rigor, and is nothing more than unqualified students volunteering to earn college credit. This assessment of service-learning is complicated further by the fact that “we continue to struggle for a definition of service-learning that is capable of eliciting broad consensus and usage in the field (Liu 2000).”

I do not intend to defend service-learning in all of its many forms. In fact, I believe that some types of service-learning can do more harm than good to the students performing the service and to the communities in which they work. However, I would like to focus on a model of service learning that I developed called the embodied cognition model of service learning. My goal is threefold: to explain the theoretical model, discuss its application in the classroom, and argue how it is able to answer a common criticism of service-learning: the criticism that service learning lacks intellectual rigor.

Keywords: Service Learning, Embodied Cognition, Pedagogy, Ethics, Education
Stream: Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Monica Cowart

Associate Professor, Philosophy Department, Merrimack College
North Andover, MA, USA

Ref: H06P0575