What is Ethical Service?

While community service is often well intentioned, there are many steps we can take to ensure the service we do is ethical productive, and informed by community needs.

While community service is often well intentioned, many times it can cause more harm than good. To ensure the service we do is effective, volunteers should have an understanding of the historical contexts of the community they serve before going to volunteer in those places. By understanding and addressing what a community is asking for, volunteers can find the best way to provide support, while avoiding saviorism / “savior complex”. When saviorism is a component of service, the service is not aimed at justice or autonomy, but instead becomes a series of solutions that prioritize making the volunteers feel good about themselves. At the BU Community Service Center, we believe in doing work in solidarity with the Greater Boston community, and creating a holistic service experience that encourages learning and engagement before, during, and after service.


Learning Service by Claire Bennet
Where’s the Learning in Service Learning? By Janet Eyler
Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality by Jordan Flaherty

Some Terms You Should Know