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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women of colour talk back : towards a critical race feminist practice of service-learning Verjee, Begum

Abstract

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is exploring ways in which to develop and implement service-learning. This study explores the development of service-learning from a critical race feminist perspective. Service-earning is a form of experiential education. It is a strategy or pedagogy where students learn and develop through service experiences which are designed to meet identified community issues, and are collaboratively organized between academic institutions and communities. Critical race feminism, as an epistemology, sets out to understand how society organizes itself along intersections of race, gender, class and all forms of social hierarchies. Critical race feminist theory utilizes counter-storytelling to legitimize the voices and experiences of women of colour, drawing on these knowledges toward the larger goal of eradicating all forms of social oppression. The central question for this study is this: how can UBC develop partnerships with individuals and communities of colour that would support and enhance the well-being of such communities, in a service-learning context, when the institution remains a site of white, male and class-based structures, discourses and practices? Through counter-storytelling, women of colour students, staff, faculty and non-university community members relay their perceptions and experiences at and with UBC. Their perceptions and experiences of systemic exclusion form the basis for the development of a service-learning model from a critical race feminist perspective in this thesis. The implementation of such a model would foster the development of respectful and mutually beneficial partnerships with individuals and communities of colour. This model calls for institutional accountability through institutional transformation from within, through the development of a Centre for Anti-Oppression Education, Training and Development, and the simultaneous creation of an Office for Critical Community Service-Learning outside the Point Grey campus. According to this study, such development must be founded on critical race feminist principles of education for transformative citizenship. These critical race feminist principles would encourage a transformative project for education through an emphasis on the development of respectful relationships across social hierarchies, and a commitment to co-creating and sustaining just communities in search for a more humane and equitable world.

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