Service-Learning as a Tool to Cultivate Democratically Minded Students: A Conceptual Framework


  • Hannah Lebovits Cleveland State University
  • Del M. N. Bharath California State University, Dominguez Hills



Public Administration, Democracy, Service-Learning, Social Justice


The field of public administration is intrinsically linked to a substantive experience of democracy and the development of a democratic community. This article employs John Dewey’s constructivist pedagogical approach to make the case that service-learning can be a vehicle to cultivate students’ understanding of democracy as a movement toward a common good. We use the term “real democracy” to describe the ways that substantive practices of Dewey’s communal democracy materialize in today’s public sector. We highlight the concerns “real democracy” presents for public administrators before arguing that Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs are a particularly suitable setting to cultivate Dewey’s constructivist approach to democratic education given that the spirit of the approach is already well-aligned with MPA core competencies. Finally, we present public administration educators with a democratic service-learning conceptual framework that ties together pedagogical goals, service-learning design and outcomes, and Dewey’s constructivist, democratic student experience.

Author Biographies

  • Hannah Lebovits, Cleveland State University

    Hannah Lebovits is a doctoral student at Cleveland State University. Her research is predominantly focused on urban, suburban and metropolitan governance. Hannah’s interest in service-learning stems from her experiences in service-learning courses as an MPA student. She is passionate about using service-learning as a vehicle to cultivate idealism and a social justice mindset in future public servants.

  • Del M. N. Bharath, California State University, Dominguez Hills

    Del Bharath is a faculty member in the College of Business Administration and Public Policy at California State University, Dominguez Hills. As a public administration educator and student, she is interested in researching and utilizing service-learning to connect theory to practice and increase learning and development outcomes in students.






Research Articles

Similar Articles

1-10 of 238

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>