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Abstract

Community-based learning (CBL) is employed as a pedagogical approach in professional programs globally; however, transferability of Eurocentric CBL models and theory to university settings outside the global north is under-examined. Adopting critical hermeneutics as the theoretical and methodological framework, this study explored the meaning of community-based learning (CBL) to Kenyan university students in a human services program and examined the complexity of students’ difficult learning experiences in making connections between classroom learning and praxis in Kenyan communities. Data were collected from six university students following 12-week placements with community organizations in Kenya. Findings revealed disciplinary, historical, cultural and extra-linguistic factors related to students’ difficult and uncomfortable learning experiences as human service professionals in training. Recognizing critical civic engagement in Kenya is closely associated with social and cultural contexts, this article recommends the pedagogy of discomfort be integrated into CBL curriculum and praxis to mitigate negative reactions to challenging CBL experiences. The article concludes with implications for enhancing critical CBL literacy and praxis.

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