Book by Kelshaw, Todd, Lazarus, Freda and Minier, Judy, et al.
Review by Elain D. Carroll
Academic Advisor, School of Adult and Continuing Education
There are many roads to a successful service-learning partnership. This book details nine very different service-learning partnerships that provided real-life experience for students and benefitted a sector of their respective communities.
Advisors will find reading this book helpful in many ways. Five benefits come easily to mind. First, the variety of examples encourages brainstorming regarding how students can help solve local community concerns. Second, it teaches design parameters as well as evaluation tools to measure change brought about by partnerships. Third, it shows that students of all age groups can become involved in their communities while attending college. Fourth, it shows that college students model responsible behavior to those being served or mentored; student behavior alone can affect the lives of those in the community regardless of the designed purpose of the partnership. Finally, each of the nine collaborations detailed offered academic references for further research. Several cite Harkavy (1999 and 2004) who provided the afterward for this text.
Each of the detailed examples had a different focus. Some of the collaborations described the process and program design more than the evaluation. Others delineated measurement techniques rather than program detail. Many of the partnerships revolved around public school systems; providing tutoring, mentoring, or enrichment programs for local students. The most unique example detailed a project at Metropolitan State University, a university without walls in Minnesota. They collaborated with their local municipality to build and stock a library accessible to the public, university students, and faculty. The university needed a new library (it had been sharing another institution’s libraries), and the community needed a library and its accompanying services. Metropolitan partnered to build it providing databases, research resources, and ongoing enrichment programs in a partnership of shared services that is the first and only one of its kind in the state of Minnesota.
I enjoyed learning and understanding the extensive scope of these collaborative partnerships. As an academic advisor and adjunct instructor, I build a service-learning project into the Foundations of Adult Learning course I teach. However, given my school’s eight-week term, our service learning has to this point been limited to researching a worthy organization, providing a limited-time service to them, and reflecting on the organization and our role in it. This book taught me that a service-learning project does not equal a partnership. True partnerships are not a service leading to gratitude experience, but a reciprocal service experience. All parties in the partnership know, respect, and gain through the other parties’ unique abilities and involvement. When we in higher education use service-learning partnerships to meet a community need, we enrich those we serve and those who are served by us. That is true education.
I would recommend this text to anyone contemplating collaborative service-learning projects or programs. The successes and partial failures detailed in this book serve as wise guides to those who are in the initial phases of partnering students with organizations within their communities.
Harkavy, I. (1999). School-community-university partnerships: Effectively integrating community building and education reform. University and Community Schools, 6(1-2), 7-24.
Harkavy, I. (2004). Service-learning and the development of democratic universities, democratic schools, and democratic good societies in the 21st century. In S. Billig & M. Welch (Eds.), New perspectives in service-learning::Research to advance the field (pp. 3-22). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Partnerships for Service-Learning, Impacts on Communities and Students. (2009) Book by Kelshaw, Todd, Lazarus, Freda and Minier, Judy, et al. Review by Elain D. Carroll. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 336 pp. $40.00 ISBN 978-0-470-45057-4