Service-Learning, Civic and Community Participation

Contributions to Adult Development

Authored by: Susan R. Jones , Anna Gasiorski

Handbook of Research on Adult Learning and Development

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  November  2008

Print ISBN: 9780805858198
eBook ISBN: 9780203887882
Adobe ISBN: 9781135597405


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The picture portrayed of “bowling alone” in Robert Putnam’s (2000) oft-cited book spurred national dialogue about an isolated and disengaged populace who would rather engage in solitary activity than participate in community activities. The rhetoric of “bowling alone” was tempered by national legislation and programs to promote active participation in volunteering and civic engagement (e.g., Points of Light, Corporation for National Service, Teach for America, Freedom Corps). Indeed, recent data from the Independent Sector (2001) suggested that 44% of all adults in the U.S. volunteer, contributing a total value of $280 billion in volunteer hours (Independent Sector, 2005). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2006) reported that 65.4 million people volunteered for a community organization at least once in 2004–2005, which represents 28.8% of the population. However, how these statistics, inferring civic participation, translate into adult development and learning, or what outcomes are promoted for individuals and communities from such participation, is less clear.

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