The Vermont Connection


By engaging in purposefully designed community work, we can involve students in conversations about social justice and their roles as community members. Service-learning is an engaged pedagogy that encourages students to explore social justice in depth. Social justice work, as well as service-learning, can often encourage students to become involved politically in issues they encounter. Given the Millennial Generation’s distaste for polarized political debates and the potential for overly political discussion to silence students, how can service-learning programs continue to support students’ social justice education and political engagement while avoiding partisanship? This article introduces the concept of justice-based service-learning (JBSL) and explores service-learning as social justice education, including the philosophical foundations of socially just service-learning and the intersections of politics, social justice, and service. The author proposes six principles for creating political—not partisan—socially just service-learning.