Restrictive Citizenship: Civic-Oriented Service-Learning Opportunities for All Students

Jay A. Mann, Stacy K. Dymond, Michelle L. Bonati, Lance S. Neeper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Citizenship education that uses service-learning continues to be implemented in a manner that may restrict many students from full, meaningful participation. The authors contend that much of the literature on civic-oriented service-learning unnecessarily positions successful projects at the extremes: (a) political socialization versus civic altruism and (b) monism versus cultural pluralism. Each extreme, while seemingly supportive of advancing important objectives of citizenship, limits the experience of service-learning participants through narrowly conceived visions of civic action. These differing visions significantly affect the participation of students with disabilities, limiting access for some students and weakening the overall potential to foster sustained, age- and ability-appropriate engagement in civic life. After a discussion of how restrictive service-learning opportunities affect those with disabilities, the authors call for more civic-orientated service-learning opportunities that transcend these polarized relationships. Recommendations are provided for supporting less extreme conceptions of service-learning outcomes with the goal of broadening the participation of students with disabilities within civic-oriented service-learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experiential Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • citizenship education
  • civics
  • disabilities
  • secondary education
  • service-learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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