Publication Details

Hammersley, L. (2013). Community-based service-learning: Partnerships of reciprocal exchange?. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 14 (3), 171-184.


Community-based service-learning (CBSL) integrates experiential learning and academic goals with organized activities designed to meet the objectives of community partners. CBSL has potential to enhance (1) academic learning, (2) foster civic responsibility, (3) develop life skills and (4) transform student attitudes. However, little research supports claims that benefits are mutual amongst host counterparts. A lack of empirical research into community partner conceptualizations of best practice approaches and impacts, reflects a uni-dimensional understanding of the mutuality of programs, and fails to challenge dominant power relations embedded in traditionally uneven partnerships. It remains problematic to engage with service-learning without considering neocolonialist ideologies underpinning the ways community service, international development, and volunteering are defined and practiced. Drawing on development discourse, this paper first demonstrates how intertwined CBSL is with contemporary development agendas; second, brings attention to the absence of partner perspectives and involvement within CBSL studies; and third, outlines a CBSL research agenda.