Community, Politics and Service
Political Science 364
Richard Guarasci, Hobart Dean
This is a course about democracy, community,
and difference. It is a course that
requires students to be fully engaged
in a term-long community service project.
It is a course that asks students to
be fully engaged in the biographies
of people within the community and to
be involved in writing autobiographically
about the effect of that service on
their own lives, their perspectives
on democracy, and their understanding
of democratic citizenship.
This is also a course that prizes independent
thought. We focus on the critical evaluation
of both the readings and the field experience
and how each serves to engage the other.
We ask you to reaffirm one central precept,
namely, that learning requires a serious
commitment to both the subject at hand,
and the voices and experiences of those
engaged in the course and the community.
We are involved in community service
from two perspectives. First, Geneva
and its surroundings is a community
in need of serious assistance as it
encounters the limits, contradictions,
and dramatic changes surrounding the
realities of post-modern capitalism.
Our work in service involves us in the
everyday lives of persons many times
cornered by a very limited menu of social
and economic choices. Their, and your
experience with them, is authentic and
real unto itself. We work with them
to enhance positive change in their
immediate circumstances. This is the
work of empowerment and social transformation.
Secondly our service work is, itself,
a project in citizenship. We are exploring
the nature and limits of democratic
citizenship in our time. This component
of service learning is an essential,
and quite important, commitment in its
own right. What does citizenship mean
now? What ought it mean? How does it
relate to various perspectives on justice?
democracy? community? difference? Our
work in service learning allows us to
rethink these very basic and quite critical
From both perspectives in service learning,
social change, and democratic citizenship,
we need to bring together the experiential
with the intellectual. Both experience
and ideas are ways to know the world
and our goal is to create a pedagogy--a
way to learn--that joins the course
readings with our field experience so
that students can use each to understand
and critically evaluate the other. Toward
this end we are attempting to end the
narrow approach to educating that separates
learning from experience. That perspective
limits learning simply to the acquisition
and absorption of knowledge. We are
attempting to end the equally false
dualism of separating knowledge from
personal experience. The goal of this
course is to reconcile these different
realms of learning by joining readings
and experience, intellectual development
and ethical growth, and our individual
academic experience with the unfolding
of our own larger autobiographies.
Writing, Reading, and Doing
Communication, experience and reflection
are the means to intellectual and ethical
growth. We grow by encountering and
rethinking that experience. Writing,
reading and action are the means to
this growth. In this course we need
to be constantly engaged in all three
in ways that bring us together so that
we can share, compare and contrast our
thoughts and feelings. To these ends
the course assignments are meant to
provide mechanisms for communication
and reflection allowing us to both personally
engage the content (readings and service)
and to begin creating a community of
learning within the course. The assignments
both in and outside of class are meant
to help us collaborate so that we can
expand our personal understanding of
our experience and to begin to see our
involvement as a collective and cooperative
enterprise where we genuinely learn
from one another.
The Dialogical Experiential Journal
(15% of final grade)
Each student must regularly use a journal
for this class. But we have a special
type of journal in mind. We are after
personal idiosyncratic notation, but
we are after much more than that. We
want you to write insightful and reflective
reviews (not reports) of what you find
to be key aspects of the assigned readings.
In addition, we want you to write about
your field experience in some detail,
but also in contrast and comparison
to the readings. What do they have in
common or in opposition, or both? Finally,
we want you to read each others journals
so that you can share your ideas and
We will call our type of journal a
Dialogical Experiential Journal. The
journal may be a notebook or a binder.
It must be organized in a specific way
so that the readings being reviewed
are followed by an accounting of field
experience. One method is to use left
side pages for the literature review
and right side pages for a field work
report. The goal is to then create third
sections where the two are brought to
bear upon one another. A second method
simply is to segment the journal by
literature, field work, and synthesis
(literature-field work comparison) sections.
The journal needs to clearly demarcate
Two Analytic Papers (20% each)
You are asked to submit two analytic
papers (approximately 10-12 pages each).
These papers are your analyses of the
As writing assignments they have specific
writing goals that inform how you should
approach your writing. Specifically,
you need to 1) identify central arguments
of the respective authors; 2) identify
the evidence and logical basis of their
arguments; 3) evaluate their arguments
by assessing the validity and strength
of their evidence and interpretation
of this evidence; 4) begin to construct
your own argument on these issues as
you sift through the various perspectives,
voices, and information presented in
the readings and influenced by your
service field work.
More specifically each of these papers
should include the following elements:
1. Identification of the central thesis/arguments
of the respective authors;
2. Identification of the evidence and
logical analyses that each author employs
to support these arguments.
3. Identification of the issues and
questions absent in these respective
pieces omitted or avoided in these respective
4. Identification of the arguments
that are most convincing and weigh their
strengths and weaknesses; and
5. Reformulate the problems and responses
in your voice and from your perspective
by touching on the following points.
- Draft a portrait of the central
- Identify the causal or essential
relationships, cultural factors, institutions,
political interests that shape the
- Draw upon the evidence you find
most convincing and powerful,
- Begin to formulate your responses
to the central problems you identified
in your portrait of the problems.
Another assignment will further enhance
our integration of the community work
with our reflection about the broad
themes raised by our readings. Each
student will write a 3-5 page ethnographic
portrait of one of the individuals they
encounter in their field service work.
Like, Kozol, Terkel, and other authors
we read this term, you too are an intelligent
observer as well as participant in the
community. You too will meet persons
whose lives tell a story about one or
more key aspects of community life:
class, ethnic, racial, gender, and other
forms of social difference, political
empowerment or political powerlessness,
the circumstances of material shortcomings,
economic jeopardy, the effect of anxieties
brought on by semi-permanent economic
vulnerability, or stories of great courage
in overcoming seemingly insurmountable
obstacles. And of course there are any
number of equally significant issues
around education, healthcare, social
services, housing, cultural conflict,
immigration, and family. The key point
to grasp is that you too are an author
who has important insights regarding
the telling of this person?s story.
Some of our assigned authors offer us
fine examples of ethnographic reportage.
It is quite appropriate to borrow from
their styles as you need.
The Citizenship Autobiography (20%)
7-10 pages (final exam)
How has this class changed you, if
any? What personal, ethical, and political
values have you reexamined? How has
your service learning impacted on your
life? Most importantly what does service
learning mean for your understanding
of democratic citizenship? Some of the
readings will inform your autobiography
as you reflect on your service to the
community, its personal meaning to you,
and how you believe it helps you understand
what citizenship means at this time
in American history. In this sense you
are writing an intellectual and ethical
autobiography, i.e. who you are as virtue
of what you believe, what you do, and
what you have read.
Field Service and Participation (Journal
& Service =25%)
Your field service is an integral component
of this learning experience. Your participation
must be consistent and thorough. It
must be critically assessed in your
journal writing and in a field assessment
by the instructor, and the relevant
- Robert Coles, The Call of Service
- Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
- Andrew Hacker, Two Nations:
Black & White, Separate, Hostile,
- Arthur Schlesinger, The Disuniting
of America: Reflections on a Multicultural
- Cornell West, Race Matters
- Harrison and Bluestone, The
Great U Turn
- Barber and Battistoni, eds, Education
Guarasci and Cornwell, "Democratic
Education in an Age of Difference"
Perspectives, v.23, Fall 1992.
Farland and Henry, Politics for the
21st Century: What Should be Done on
Campus, Kettering Foundation.
Douf Bandow, National Service: Utopia
Revisited, CATO Institute, Policy Analysis
#90, March 1993.
Studs Terkel, Excerpts from Race.
Barber and Battistoni, A Season of
Service, PS, June,
Schedule of Meetings, Readings, and
Class 1 Politics, Community,
and Service. Assignment: In-class
writing, 2 page paper entitled "Why
am I enrolled in This Course?"
Class 2 Difference.
Readings: A. Lorde, Sister Outsider,
pp. 7-12, 40-44, 114-123, 134-144. From
Barber and Battistoni: Anzaldua pp.
247-262, Steele pp. 263-270, Jackson
pp. 321- 328.
Class 3 Difference.
Readings: Hacker, Two Nations, Terkel
(and handouts), From Schoem, Inside
Separate Worlds, (reprint). Journals
Class 4 Community.
Schlesinger, The Disuniting of America.
Barber and Battistoni: Bellah, pp. 99-118.
Analytic Paper Due. Journals Due.
Class 5 Community.
West, Race Matters. Barber and Battistoni:
Dewey, pp. 17-24. Ethnography paper
due, first draft.
Class 6 Democracy.
In Barber and Battistoni: Rousseau,
pp. 26-32; Jefferson, pp. 33-50; Whitman,
pp. 51-58; Pateman, pp. 271-280. Journals
Class 7 Economy. Harrison
and Bluestone, The Great U-Turn. Journals
Class 8 Citizenship.
Bandow, National Service, Utopia Revisited.
Coles, The Call of Service, (Ch. 1-8,
and Epilogue). Film: Celebrate Geneva.
Analytic Paper #2 Due.
Class 9 Citizenship.
Barber and Battistoni: Boyte, pp. 171-178;
Barber, pp. 161-170; Thucydides, pp.
139-146; Clinton, pp. 181-183; Vantil,
pp. 184-189. Ethnography Paper, Draft
Class 10 Education.
Barber and Battistoni: Kozol, pp. 293-304.
Fairland and Henry, Politics From 21st
Class 11 Autobiography and
Community Participation. Coles,
Complete and Revisit. Final Journals
Final Exam Citizenship Autobiography