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10-04-2018 Jessica Mann

Presenter: Dr. Jessica Mann, Director for the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research

Title: "Crossing Borders for Civic Engagement: A Narrative Industry of Service-Learning Participant Perspectives"

Abstract: Service-learning initiatives often serve as higher education's co-curricular approach to achieving institutional goals of fostering students' civic growth. Alternative Spring Breaks (ASBs) have been understudied as service-learning programmatic options in higher education, thus leaving little to no indication of the larger context of the service experience, nor its participant outcomes in terms of civic engagement (Jones, Robbins, & LePeau, 2011).

This talk will discuss a study designed to address gaps in researcher and practitioner understanding of ASBs, by uncovering long-term effects of these widely utilized, yet under-researched programs. Through a narrative inquiry methodology, this study captured the stories of five alternative spring break participants. Analyzing respondent narratives through the lens of Dewey's philosophy of education and Giroux's theory of border-crossing, the researcher was able to speak to service-learning's ability to not only engage students in cross-cultural experiences, but to also cross internal borders within themselves, challenging pre-conceived notions of otherness and social issues. Moreover, the study highlighted the aesthetic and emotive meaning participants ascribe to their service experience long-term, noting shifts in their civic mindfulness and cultural sensitivity as well as propensity to civically engage post-graduation.

Bio: Dr. Jessica Mann is the current director for the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research at Duquesne University. She is an alumna of Duquesne, graduating with her Master of Arts degree in Integrated Marketing Communication. She is also a two-time alumna of the University of Pittsburgh, where she most recently graduated with her PhD in Administration and Policy studies from the School of Education. Jessica's career in higher education has been split between academic and student affairs, exploring the ways in which institution's programs and initiatives respond to their larger civic and social responsibilities. In this sense, she has spent her career developing and enacting strategic plans, assessing and evaluating institutional programs and initiatives, and creating and implementing programming which enhances the educational experience of students and supplements the research of faculty and staff, while simultaneously serving the local community.