Date of Award

Spring 4-2016

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Antonia Darder

Second Advisor

Brad Porfilio

Third Advisor

Ani Shabazian


The notion of service has enjoyed historical longevity—rooted deeply within our institutions (i.e., churches, schools, government, military, etc.), reminiscent of indentured servitude, and rarely questioned as a colonizing practice that upholds oppression. Given the relentless insertion of service learning programs into working class communities, the sacrosanctity awarded and commonsensically given to service is challenged and understood within its colonial, historical, philosophical, economic, and ideological machinations. This political confrontation of service learning practices serves to: (a) critique the dominant epistemologies that reproduce social inequalities within the context of service learning theory and practice; and (b) move toward the formulation of a critical bicultural service learning theory and critical principles, in line with the humanizing and emancipatory intent of a critical decolonizing pedagogical practice.

This dissertation is deeply influenced by the writings of Brazilian educational philosopher Paulo Freire and critical activist scholar Antonia Darder, among others, and incisively examines and critiques service learning through critical bicultural pedagogy and critical decolonizing interpretive methodology. As a radical political project, Darder’s decolonizing interpretive theoretical framework provides an opportunity to rupture the abyssal divide that epistemologically privileges the Eurocentric service learning discourse in an effort to place bicultural voices, scholarship, and communities at the forefront of this educational movement. In seeking to move toward equality and liberatory practices, both politically and pedagogically, it is imperative that critical consciousness be the guide to ensure that society does not stand by and accept the displacement and dehumanization of the oppressed by culturally invasive practices of service.