Is Service-Learning a Disservice to Philosophy?


NAS member Spencer Case, a recent Philosophy Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder, writes at Quillette about whether service-learning is useful in philosophy. His critique is gentler than what the NAS wrote in Making Citizens, and more specific to the discipline of philosophy.

The slope here really is slippery. If we accept that even 20 percent of a student’s grades should be service-based—on, say, the grounds that philosophy belongs in the ‘real world’—then the open question will be “Why not more?” Most university classes can be repurposed as ‘service-learning’ courses; only philosophy concerns the fundamental questions at its core. Diverting attention away from theoretical concerns in an effort to make philosophy ‘relevant’ will instead make it redundant and irrelevant. Pressing philosophy into public service would be a disservice to philosophy.

The entire article is worth reading.

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