Seeking Social Justice in the Digital Age: A Praxis-Oriented Approach to Community-Based Learning and Offender Reentry

Stephen Barnard (St. Lawrence University)

This presentation explores the pedagogy and praxis of a digital, sociological approach to community-based learning (CBL).  Through a close examination of experiences planning and teaching a course tailored to fit the needs of a county jail, I demonstrate a model for teaching CBL that serves the community as well as the students.  After reviewing the process of conducting a needs-assessment and designing programming appropriate for the cooperating institution, I discuss strategies for crafting appropriate course curricula.  The combination of individual (reflective blogging and experiential research) and collaborative assignments (community improvement project, group discussion facilitations, and presentations) provides a diverse yet sequenced set of assessments, which approach community engagement from a variety of angles.  The success of this CBL approach is shown through examples from students’ reflective blog posts as well as feedback from members of the cooperating institution.

Stephen Barnard is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Lawrence University.  His research interests focus on the sociology of new media, culture, and communication.  His teaching incorporates a variety of digital and hybrid approaches to facilitate learning with and about technology.  His scholarship has appeared in Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, Contexts, and Hybrid Pedagogy, as well as in several edited volumes.  He tweets at @socsavvy.

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