The ethics of Service Learning at university: an interpretation from pragmatism

Gonzalez-Geraldo, Jose L.; Jover, Gonzalo; Martinez, Miquel


Volume Issue Pages DOI / ISBN / ISSN
69 4 63-78 DOI: 10.13042/Bordon.2017.690405


Language Country
Spanish Spain


INTRODUCTION. In the light of the challenges raised by the internationalisation framework established since the beginning of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), as well as our turbulent present in which social problems are demanding urgent actions, Service Learning appears as an interesting option where ethics play a capital role in order to improve the quality of our students’ learning and the whole society. METHOD. In this paper we explore the underlying interests of these practices from a theoretical discourse in its pragmatic sense, obviously rooted in the ideas of John Dewey, the main keystone of the following paragraphs. These reflections are supported by different analyses from two specific sources: 1) The project Service Learning and Innovation at university: a programme to develop the academic outcome and social capital of the students and 2) the CIS study titled Attitudes of the youth in Spain towards participation and volunteering. RESULTS. Service Learning is a methodology with clear ethical implications which fosters a harmonious competence acquisition. In addition, far from admitting a spurious ambition from the students who participate in these practices, we defend that their interest is inherent to the human being, plausible and even desirable. The lack of time, related to interest and effort, appears as a relevant variable. DISCUSSION. Moreover, in this paper we will also debate some of the theoretical concepts of John Dewey which have direct implications for coherent Service Learning practices, something that is not always clearly done when this methodology is embedded in his educational philosophy.


Service Learning; Higher Education; Ethics; Pragmatism; Student Interests

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