Whose Voice Is Present?: An Examination of Power and Privilege in Service-Learning in Ontario Universities
This research paper examines themes of power and privilege that occur within service-learning as described by 3 Ontario universities on their service-learning websites. Due to size and time restrictions, this paper was able to examine only 3 Ontario universities: Brock, Wilfrid Laurier, and Lakehead. The purpose of this study is geared towards service-learning practitioners in order for the universities and students to become more self-aware of their immense place of privilege within the service-learning context. Qualitative narrative analysis research methods were employed in this purposeful sample to examine how each university’s story of service-learning reflected themes of power and privilege. The research found that each university posed a unique narrative of service-learning representing various stakeholders’ voices and presence in different ways on their website. Brock largely focuses on faculty and student voices. Laurier intentionally attempts to include all three stakeholder voices, although still favours students and the university as an audience over the community. Lakehead’s unique program includes a plethora of voices and intends much of their information for the community members, students, and the university. The implications of this research demonstrate that universities have a large amount of power and privilege, which is carried through to the students within the service-learning partnership.