Book cover for Learning on Location: Place-Based Approaches for Diverse Learners in Higher Education by Ashley J. Holmes. Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching
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ISBN: 9781642674217

November 2023

Chapter 5 focuses on engaging the civic through location-based learning activities. The chapter begins by featuring a sociology course at Georgia State University in Atlanta, which involves walking to nearby judicial courts for students to experience and learn from civic places. The chapter also includes examples from English and criminal justice courses that embed site visits to civic locations such as the state legislature and offices of state representatives, as well as a researcher-in-residence partnership between Thompson Rivers University and the City of Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada. This chapter argues civic engagement pedagogies enhance their transformative potential when students experience civic spaces and places. While location-based civic engagement can lead to powerful student learning experiences, the chapter calls attention to the ways these experiences can be troubling for learners and teachers alike because of racial histories and contemporary injustices that explicitly or tacitly position civic space as white space. Chapter 5 asks readers to consider the civic places on or near campus and to ethically partner with students to navigate paths to mobilize students in civic learning.

Discussion Questions

  1. Chapter 5 features civic engagement pedagogies at locations such as court houses, state legislatures, city halls, and community spaces. Brainstorm a list of civic spaces on-campus or off-campus where you could locate civic learning assignments or program activities. Consider student club offices, cultural centers, libraries, community centers, museums, public parks, or other community or civic locations.
  2. Knowing students from underrepresented or minority groups may experience civic space differently, how might your course or program build-in opportunities for reflection, counter story or countermapping, and/or the telling of alternate histories?