Mainstreaming disaster-relief service-learning in communication departments: Integrating communication pedagogy, praxis, and engagement


Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Agarwal, V. (2016). Mainstreaming disaster-relief service-learning in communication departments: Integrating pedagogy, praxis, and engagement. Journal of the Association for Communication Administration, 35(1), 25–42.



Communication is the primary mode through which students inculcate critical thinking skills for (re)construction of social reality and engagement with communities in need (Craig, 1989). Thus it is well-suited to disaster-relief service-learning approaches that provide a pathway for democratic engagement with the material consequences of inequality evidenced in disasterstruck communities. Communication administrators can advocate for disaster-relief servicelearning programs by aligning theoretically-informed student input in faculty–administration partnerships to construct transformative learning experiences sustaining trusting relationships. This study is the first to employ the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1986) to identify themes comprising student composite disaster-relief volunteering belief-structure and disaster-relief volunteering intentions elicited by surveys (N=352) and theme analyses of qualitative data. The findings center the role of communication administrators in integrating disaster-relief pedagogies and advocating for institutional initiatives that bridge “thought to action, theory to practice” (Boyer, 1994, p. A48) around the vital social issues evoked by disaster-relief contexts.