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What is service learning?

Service-learning is a "course-based, credit-bearing educational experience that allows students to (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility" (Bringle & Hatcher, 1995, p. 112).

The following points further define service learning:

  1. The learner provides the service, the service-recipients provide the learning. Seen similarly - the service reinforces and strengthens the learning; the learning reinforces and strengthens the service.
  2. It is a way of “learning by doing.” Aristotle, said, “We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” Similarly, MacNichol (1993) stated, “[We become] compassionate by doing compassionate acts, caring by doing caring acts, and good citizens by acting as good citizens.”
  3. It builds the “5 C’s”of: caring, compassion, character, citizenship, and connections (Wills, 1992).
  4. It uses reflection as an important component to support the learning process. Reflection can occur in a variety of forms: reflection in action, reflection upon action, and reflection upon reflection.
  5. The outcome of service learning is typically two-fold: 1). To empower the learner; 2) To empower the service recipient.


How can I learn more?
Go to the following websites to learn more about service learning:


What is occupational justice?

Occupational justice is “justice related to opportunities and resources required for occupational participation sufficient to satisfy personal needs and full citizenship” (Christensen & Townsend, 2004, p. 278). An occupationally just society or world would enable persons to decide and do that which is most meaningful and useful to themselves, their families, communities, and nations (Christiansen & Townsend, 2004).

The following points further define occupational justice:

  1. Numerous sub-types of occupational injustices have been identified (Christiansen & Townsend, 2004). Among them are the following:
    • Occupational deprivation – when people cannot engage in occupations that are necessary and meaningful to them due to factors outside their control;
    • Occupational alienation – when people experience a prolonged disconnectedness, emptiness, and/or sense of meaninglessness;
    • Occupational imbalance – when some people are over-occupied and others are under-occupied.
  2. To promote occupational justice in a population or community one might engage in: awareness raising, activism, advocacy, education, training, and experiential teaching (Duncan & Watson, 2004).
  3. Occupational justice initiatives that empower individuals and communities while ensuring sustainability of the initiative are the ones most successful in promoting change.


How can I learn more?
Go to the following websites to learn more about occupational justice:


How do service learning and occupational justice fit together for Guatemala 2014?

Go to the syllabi for the HOCS 323 Occupational Justice I and HOCS 405 Occupational Justice II courses to find out.



Bringle, R., & Hatcher, J. (1995). A service learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 2, 112-122.

Christiansen, C. H., & Townsend, E. A. (2004). Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Duncan, M., & Watson, R. (2004). Transformation through occupation: Towards a prototype. In R. Watson & L. Swartz (Eds.), Transformation through occupation (pp. 301-318). London, Whurr.

Kronenberg, F., Algado, S. S., & Pollard, N. (2005). Occupational therapy without borders: Learning from the spirit of survivors. Edinburgh, England: Elsevier.




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