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Special Issue:
Centering Social Justice in the Scholarship of Community Engagement

The Winter 2021 issue of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (MJCSL) will be a joint issue between the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) and the Edward Ginsberg Center at the University of Michigan. As the publisher of MJCSL, the Edward Ginsberg Center is partnering with NCID to highlight the challenges and successes involved as scholars have made efforts to center social justice in their community engagement. This special issue will be guest edited by Tabbye Chavous (University of Michigan) and Tania D. Mitchell (University of Minnesota).


Associate Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development
Director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, Associate Vice President for Research, and Professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan


A growing number of scholars have critiqued traditional models of service-learning and engaged scholarship for their failure to explicitly confront systems of inequality and their lack of attention to dismantling these structures of injustice (Butin, 2005; Hernandez, 2018; Marullo & Edwards, 2000; Mitchell, 2008; Tilley-Lubbs, 2009; Wade, 2000). This issue will highlight how scholars have centered social justice when designing and implementing service-learning opportunities or producing and applying engaged scholarship. The editors invite abstracts for submissions from educators and researchers from all fields and disciplines that: 

  • Report research on the challenges, motivations, and experiences of practicing community engagement, 
  • Explore the often-overlooked contributions to the field of community engaged-scholarship by educators, researchers, practitioners, community partners, and community members from historically marginalized backgrounds,
  • Evaluate methodologies for the practice and research of engagement based on their ability to achieve social justice, 
  • Apply the lessons of critical theoretical and methodological lenses such as post-colonial theory, feminism, critical race theory, queer theory, disability studies, and ecocriticism, to advance community engagement pedagogies and practices.
We encourage submissions from emerging/early career scholars and scholars of color. While community engagement and service-learning are widely acknowledged to be powerful pedagogical tools, scholars and practitioners continue to find evidence of institutions of higher education devaluing community-engaged work during the tenure and/or promotion process. Despite this, vulnerable groups such as emerging scholars, non-tenured scholars, and scholars of color continue to undertake the institutional risk of practicing public scholarship and community engagement, often leading the charge of doing this work in their individual departments and universities. We hope to highlight the scholarship and stories of these individuals and their often-underappreciated, but no less valuable, contributions in order to work towards a more fair and just academy. 


In addition, all submissions should include, either as a section or throughout, self-reflective writing that illuminates the experiences and perspectives of engaged scholars and their community partners. Such writing may be included in different ways and may take several forms. For example, individual reflection may be included as data, may drive the analysis of data, or may appear as an addendum or epitaph to the author(s) work. Reflection may take the form of a first person narrative, photography or other graphic illustration, a transcript of a conversation, or a jointly- authored reflection with a community partner, a co-author, a student, etc. Questions to consider for this reflective section may include:
  • How will your work on this article influence your future research or partnerships?
  • What structural, institutional, material, or intellectual challenges did you face in completing this work, and what did you learn from these challenges?
  • How did your social identities, those of your students, and/or those of your community partners, play a role in shaping your community engagement experience?
  • How did power show up in your partnership(s) with communities, organizations, or co-researchers? How did you address power imbalances?


Before being invited to submit a manuscript, you will first need to submit a proposal to the MJCSL and NCID editorial team for approval. We will accept proposals for this issue on a rolling basis up until February 15, 2020. If your proposal is accepted, the deadline to submit your manuscript will be June 1, 2020. Read more about the proposal process and guidelines online by clicking the button below.

For interested authors, the editorial team will be available to provide additional support to prepare your manuscript. Any questions can be addressed to


Butin, D. W. (2005). Preface: Disturbing normalizations of service-learning. In D. W. Butin (Ed.), Service-learning in higher education: Critical issues and directions (pp. vii-xx). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hernandez, K. (2018) Service learning as a political act in education: Bicultural foundations for a decolonizing pedagogy. New York: Routledge.
Marullo, S., & Edwards, B. (2000). From charity to justice: The potential of university-community collaboration for social change. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(5), 895-912.
Mitchell, T. D. (2008). Traditional vs. critical service-learning: Engaging the literature to differentiate two models. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 14(2), 50-65.
Tilley-Lubbs, G. A. (2009) Good intentions pave the way to hierarchy: A retrospective autoethnographic approach. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 16(1), 59-68.
Wade, R. C. (2000). From a distance: Service-learning and social justice. In C. R. O’Grady (Ed.), Integrating service learning and multicultural education in colleges and universities (pp. 93-111). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Submit a Proposal
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