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Towards Productive Disagreement: Deliberative, Democratic Processes in Community Engagement and Service-Learning

Kathryn Elizabeth Yankura Swacha


This article argues that recognizing and addressing disagreements and differences among students, instructors, and community members is essential for building more collaborative, reciprocal partnerships in service-learning and community engagement (SL-CE) courses. While current SL-CE pedagogies recognize that disagreements and differences arise in SL-CE partnerships, little attention has been paid to how SL-CE participants can address such issues productively. This article draws from theories of democratic deliberation to suggest that engaging students in more direct and purposeful deliberation with SL-CE partners can help students to develop key civic skills and to ensure that projects reflect more collaborative efforts for all participants. The article concludes with practical pedagogical strategies for how students, partners, and instructors can disagree productively and negotiate difference and expertise. 


community engagement; writing; democratic deliberation

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Partnerships is sponsored by North Carolina Campus Compact, and hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. ISSN: 1944-1061
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