(Re)mapping democracy through service-learning: Engaging urban students in we the people
Margaret Finucane, Director, Center for Service and Social Action, John Carroll University [mfinucane@jcu.edu]
Lauren Bowen, Associate Academic Vice-President, John Carroll University [bowen@jcu.edu]


Keywords: We the People, higher education, K-12 education, program impact

Track: Civic learning outcomes for students in K-12 and higher education

Format: Team presentation

Date & time: Friday 10:50 - 12:00
Location: Salon 5

“We, the People” is a congressionally funded curriculum designed to educate elementary, middle, and high school students about the U.S. constitutional form of government. Using the “We, the People” curriculum, we organized a year-long, weekly service-learning experience for our undergraduates where they deliver the content to 5th, 8th, and 11th grade social studies classes at several urban schools in Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs. Using data from interviews with teachers, focus groups with college students, student journals, and the school children’s standardized test scores, we will present an analysis of the impact of the We the People Service-Learning Program. In this session, faculty, students, and a school-based community partner will discuss the impact of five years of the service-learning program.

Students are challenged to think about the politics of race, class and education in a more profound way than they might without this project. For example, discussing slavery and its legacy with 5th graders who identify as Black has been provocative for many of our White students. These concepts became less abstract as a result of this community based learning experience. Beginning in 2006 with three elementary school classrooms and 14 college students, the program now engages over 500 school children and 75-80 college students each year.

Astin, A., Vogelgesang, L. J., Ikeda, E. K., & Yee, J. A. (2000). How service-learning affects students: Executive summary. Los Angeles, CA: Higher Education Research Institute.

Weah, W., Simmons, V. C., & Hall, M. (2000). Service-learning and multicultural/multiethnic perspectives. Phi Delta Kappan, 81(9), 673-675.

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