Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
The new model of service presented in this paper gives a framework for considering the possibilities for ethically grounded service. It does not solve al I of the problems with competing interests or tradeoffs in wellbeing, but is a solid foundation upon which many important discussions can be based. By examining the continuum of self-interest, the discussion of intent, preparedness, and outcome, and consideration for mandatory service, the paper has offered a comprehensive assessment of the ethics of service. The four parties - the volunteer, the client, the university, and the service site - have particular responsibilities to their own interests and to their fellow parties that contribute to the success or foilurc of the service experience.
Credit and recognition that is currently given almost exclusively to the volunteer must be spread out more appropriately to identify the contributions made by each party. That is not to discount the contributions of the volunteer, but rather, it is to recognize and appreciate the contributions of the service site, the client, and the university. Each of them invariably participates in some way during a service learning exchange, and through consideration of how to best achieve healthy self-love and avoid acts of selfishness or servility, they can find ways to achieve an experience that benefits all of the parties. Such benefit comes not only from individual satisfaction and from a healthy level of self-interest. but also from the support that the other parties provide. In order to find such a balance, each person or group must be very intentional and understand the best way to contribute to and benefit from the service exchange.
By helping the reader to recognize and understand the importance of preparation when participating in a service experience, this paper makes another contribution to the discussion of service learning. Good intentions only take a person or organization so far. and they run the risk of very quickly putting one or more parties in n position of servility. Good outcomes alone, especially when focused upon the greatest benefit run the risk of being harmful to at least one of the parties. When one considers the fact that the client is the one who could be harmed at the expense of the other three parties under a --greatest good" model, its ethical inadequacy in this context becomes quite clear. Instead of staying with one of those two incomplete considerations (intent or outcome), a third qualification must be met: preparedness. Each party has an obligation to prepare in ways particular and appropriate to its role in the exchange, and the result of such preparation will almost always lead to a more positive result for all of the parties. Though each party must prepare individually, some collaborative preparation also must take place. In particular, the university has an obligation to help in preparing the student volunteer, and the service site should pursue ways to help prepare the client.
Zur, Jonathan C., "The ethics of service : a new approach to service learning" (2003). Honors Theses. 1158.