“Here We Come to Save the Day”: Exploring the Dark Side of Servant Leadership Narratives among College Freshmen


  • Nicholas Anthony Clegorne Kennesaw State University


Service Learning, Co-curricular, Privilege, Critical Theory


This article briefly explores student narratives regarding participation in a service learning curriculum in order to trouble the ideology within and suggest a curriculum designed to create thoughtful interactions when communities partner.  Drawing on oral and written reflections of a rural Appalachian service experience with college freshman (the names of all parties and communities have been replaced with pseudonyms), it was recognized that students exhibited alarming tendencies to colonize community spaces and members though service.  Specifically, students shared narratives in which they privileged themselves as heroes while representing community members as beside the point or invalid.  Critical post-colonial critique is used to analyze student reactions.  Review of literature and analysis of student narratives suggest hegemonic structures surrounding and within service learning curriculum are likely more responsible for these missteps than individual students.  Ultimately I explore and effort to imagine curricula that disrupts hero-centered conceptualizations of service learning curricula.