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Abstract

Using exploratory, qualitative interviews, the authors studied conceptions of academic service-learning in the United States and the Republic of Ireland in order to elucidate the ways in which culture and social context shaped practitioners' perceptions and practices regarding service-learning pedagogy. Participants articulated a shared understanding of service-learning, identified similar barriers to utilizing service-learning and institutionalizing its practice, and discussed tensions surrounding the purpose of service-learning. However, Irish participants distanced their practice from the historical and cultural context of U.S. service-learning, demonstrating the process of localization. We conclude that the overarching tenets of service-learning may be transferable but the social, cultural, economic, historical, and political conditions of individual countries define how these are to be achieved.

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