Service-learning has been prominently featured as a best or high impact practice for education. Yet throughout its existence, this pedagogy has been troubled with questions regarding its effectiveness, controversy in its impact on communities, and even confusion surrounding what its definition is. Within the Anthropology Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato, the impact of service-learning has often been uncertain, with exemplary stories coming out as much as negative ones. This mixed success of service-learning's application throughout the years motivated Dr. Susan Schalge to commission a student research project in 2012 to interview service-learning stakeholders to obtain a more certain grasp of the program's successes and failures. This thesis builds upon this and other research, with a focus on understanding service-learning issues faced by the department through a mixed-method, qualitative approach, and through eclectic theoretical frameworks. Specifically, this research draws heavily from practice theory, in particular the work of Michel de Certeau, who considers power relations in terms of strategies by the powerful and tactics used by the less powerful in response. This research examines several strategies and tactics in use by students, community partners, and the department to better understanding how different parties maneuver to advance their respective agendas.


Susan Schalge

Committee Member

Kathleen Blue

Committee Member

David Engen

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright