(2010), "The scripted life: how service-learning can save the world (but not the planet)", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 18 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijoa.2010.34518baa.004Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The scripted life: how service-learning can save the world (but not the planet)
Article Type: Commentaries From: International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Volume 18, Issue 2
OK, let me get this out of the way: I love Drs DiPadova-Stocks and Kenworthy. No, it is true, I really love them. Top scholars, great teachers, and even better people. But this time they have gone too far. We most emphatically do not live in extraordinary times. The renaissance, now there was an extraordinary time! More recently, the Second World War, with civilization hanging in the balance, likely qualifies. Recently? I have seen this movie before. It is just another episode in the short, sorry history of the human race. But this time, as the editors point out, the focus of blame has shifted, and it has, to some extent, shifted in our direction. Is it possible? Could we be part of the problem? One wonders how the notables doing today’s perp walks were raised – and educated.
In that regard, as DiPadova-Stocks and Kenworthy have observed, there has been and remains a view, too widespread to be ignored, that colleges and universities and their students are largely alienated from notions of the public good. That they narrowly focus instead on achieving competitive advantage in an increasingly flat, hot world of desperately scarce resources. In other words we, as educators, share responsibility for the amalgam of malfeasance and negligence that has brought the world low. It is worth considering if we really do have a special responsibility to and for the future of society. If so, what are we going to do about it this time? Service-learning? Maybe.
The Talmud tells us that, paraphrasing, “he who saves a life saves the world entire”. I believe this. Were one to approach service-learning with the objective of changing the world, uh, the planet, he or she would soon be sorely disappointed. Were we all to engage in service-learning – right now! – we would still make only a small dent in this large rock. (Think Congo, Somalia, Darfur, and other happy destinations.) But if you consider the Talmudic insight above, you might see what I have seen in my 15 years of involvement with service-learning. I have seen the service-learning experience transform students’ lives. I have seen it benefit others, especially the economically disenfranchised. I have seen it create jobs, foster healthier communities, and offer hope in places where it is short supply. In other words, I have seen it save many worlds.
So go for it! The times may not be extraordinary, but the power of service-learning most certainly is.
Steven PapamarcosPeter J. Tobin School of Business, St John’s University, New York, USA
About the author
Steven Papamarcos (PhD, City University of New York) is Dean and Professor of Management in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St John’s University. He has established a global reputation for leadership and innovation in service-learning and has spearheaded some 20 large-scale service-learning and economic development projects at St John’s. These projects have appeared or been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, and on “Good Morning America”, WCBS, and WINS radio. Steven Papamarcos can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org