Book Reviews

Book by Strait, Jean R. & Lima, Marybeth
Review by Samara L. Stroum
Advisor – Undeclared Students
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Service-learning has become an exciting topic in higher education. It has the unique ability to extend across both academic and student-life departments, blending together two essential ingredients in a student’s collegiate experience: curriculum and engagement. At its best, the implementation of a service-learning program will translate into a meaningful educational experience for our students. 

Advisors should be present when faculty and administrators are at the table making decisions and curriculum plans. When student life professionals are creating new initiatives to engage students, advisors also should be present. A service-learning discussion is the perfect forum for advisor contributions since advisors can promote opportunities that lead to student success. If advisors are to offer any significant contributions to these discussions then we must educate ourselves.

In, The Future of Service-Learning – New Solutions for Sustaining and Improving Practice, editors Strait and Lima suggest that campuses across the United States should shape service-learning programs to reflect their individual institution’s mission, culture, and commitments. It is fascinating to watch service-learning develop into a common practice on college campuses. Interested? The next step is to ask, “How do we do this? How do we work together to help our students?” This book focuses on what is necessary if we are to create sustainable service-learning programs on any campus and emphasizes that the key element is collaboration.

Collaboration is the core message. Each chapter and section is written by professionals within the field and as a result, readers are enriched by the diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences included in the text. The array of authors reinforces how critical group efforts are if we are to truly develop strong service-learning programs; “such opportunities enable us to engage in dialogue that helps interrogate our existing understandings and build a collective intelligence through collaboration” (p. 4). The book is divided into three parts making it easy for the reader to transition from topic to sub-topic and then on to a different theme. The book is well illustrated as authors use specific campus examples where service-learning has been incorporated into the curriculum and student-life arenas.

The first section of the book discusses the importance of partnerships. The next section dives into infrastructure. Here, the reader would be wise to pay close attention to the “funding” section. The book closes with examples of models currently used on campuses. Some key points include: approaches, international models, new directions and citizenship. The content is meaty and this an active read where readers will want to break out their highlighters and sticky notes. 

For readers seeking a significant amount of information on service-learning practices this is a great find. The format of the book allows readers to dig out the information in sections rather than reading it cover to cover. Thus readers do not need to read page 20 in order to comprehend page 138. The range of contributors is impressive. Those interested in learning more about a book contributor will find that the editors have placed biographies in the back of the text. 

The Future of Service-Learning– New Solutions for Sustaining and Improving Practice. (2009). Book by Strait, Jean R. & Lima, Marybeth. Review by Samara L. Stroum. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. 229 pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-1-57922-364-6
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