Service and Community: An Action Plan For Schools

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Arthur Millman


In this project, I explored the connection that exists between an ethical school environment and action for social justice. While I recognize each topic is comprehensive and multilayered, I was interested in how the culture and climate of an ethical school supports efforts for social action. As an independent school administrator with a commitment to providing opportunity for authentic learning experiences, I was interested in designing a template to develop essential skills for future social action. My synthesis project is a combination of a theoretical discussion of relevant topics followed by a social action plan. The paper begins with a brief discussion of moral and ethical development, focusing on how a person's beliefs and experiences might serve as a precursor for future service and action. This section is followed by a discussion of school culture and climate, recognizing the importance of connecting justice and service to a school's mission and values. In the discussion, I propose that a school structured as an ethical institution will serve as an environment that is conducive to social justice and action. Within the body of the paper there is considerable discussion of the importance of connecting service with learning in a school setting. While I recognize the value of community service, I argue that more meaningful learning will occur when service is connected to working with others and taking time for ongoing reflection. The purpose of this project was to set the stage for continued involvement in social justice and service; to that end, I discuss the importance of consciousness-raising as a component of the social action program. The final section is a plan for social action designed for high school students; however, the lessons and resources could be adapted for students in a middle school setting. While there is a significant service component within the program, the plan is designed to expose students to the role of social action practitioner. In creating the action plan, I built in significant time between lessons for implementation, collaboration, and reflection. The final section of the project is a glimpse ahead to how I expect this plan to be used in an independent school setting.


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