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In this talk, I will present my research on the historical construction of student volunteering in Israeli higher education. Analysis of archival materials from two elite Israeli universities over four decades reveals three major debates surrounding student volunteering: over the purpose and nature of volunteering activities; over making volunteering a mandatory requirement; and over awarding academic credits for volunteering. I will argue that in contrast to current critical literature on student volunteering, which focuses on tensions embedded in the current neo-liberal climate, the use of a historical lens reveals that significant characteristics of universities’ volunteering policies – such as the logic of individualisation, the organisational structure of monitoring and control, and the demands for benefits for those who volunteer - are shaped by debates that took place decades in the past. More broadly, these historical debates are also debates about the shifting boundaries of the academic mission, student equity, and academic autonomy.

All welcome - this seminar is free to attend but registration is required.