Dangers of generic pedagogical panaceas: implementing sevice-learning differently in diverse disciplines

  • Amanda Hlengwa RU
  • Sioux McKenna RU
Keywords: Service learning, community engagement, pedagogic tool


Descriptions of service-learning in the literature tend to position it as a powerful pedagogic tool as well as an exemplar of ‘best practice’ applicable across all disciplines and institutional contexts. Furthermore service-learning is couched as a moral imperative. In the South African context, this moral imperative is translated into policy pronouncements driving institutions of higher education to demonstrate responsiveness to the transformation needs of broader society. In this article, two departments, Philosophy and Environmental Science, at one university are used as case studies to interrogate what enables the uptake of service-learning as a pedagogic tool. Drawing on the work of Fairclough, this paper identifies the dominant discourses at play and considers how they constrain or enable the uptake of service-learning. We advocate for the infusion of service-learning in curricula, but argue that institutional culture, disciplinary values and the structure of knowledge impact on its uptake and should not be dismissed in the implementation process.

Author Biographies

Amanda Hlengwa, RU
Sioux McKenna, RU
Research Articles