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Palgrave Macmillan

A Social History of Student Volunteering

Britain and Beyond, 1880-1980

ISBN 9781137370136
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Historical Studies in Education

Georgina Brewis takes a long view of the experience of going to university in Britain over a hundred year period. She explores students' extra-curricular volunteering, fundraising, campaigning and protest activities in Britain and beyond to show that voluntary action was central to the emergence of a distinct student movement. Brewis also considers the evolution of volunteering since the late nineteenth century through study of students' activities and argues that the universities made significant contributions to causes and campaigns ranging from educational reconstruction in 1920s Europe, relief for victims of fascism in the 1930s, and international development in the 1960s. The book draws on rich historical sources and a wider range of student testimony than any earlier study to tell the fascinating story of how ordinary women and men students engaged with the pressing social and international problems of the twentieth century.

Georgina Brewis is John Adams Fellow at UCL Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

1. Introduction
2. A New Era in Social Service? Student Associational Culture and the Settlement Movement
3. Christian Internationalism, Social Study and the Universities Before 1914
4. The Student Chapter in Post-War Reconstruction, 1920-1926
5. No Longer the Privilege of the Well-To-Do? Student Culture, Strikes and Self-Help, 1926-1932
6. Digging with the Unemployed: The Rise of a Student Social Consciousness? 1932-1939
7. Students in Action: Students and Anti-Fascist Relief Efforts, 1933-1939
8. The Students' Contribution to Victory: Voluntary Work in the Second World War And After
9. Experiments in Living: Student Social Service and Social Action, 1950-1965
10. From Service to Action? Rethinking Student Voluntarism, 1965-1980
11. Conclusions: Students and Social Change, 1880-1980


"Georgina Brewis' study of student volunteering is both illuminating and rich in detail. We move from university settlements in Edwardian slums to charity rags, to concern with unemployment and internationalism between the wars, and finally to the 'Ban the Bomb' and anti-apartheid protests of the fifties and sixties. This book brings together youthful idealism, social and political engagement, and the history of universities in an original and insightful way." - Carol Dyhouse, Research Professor of History, University of Sussex, UK
"Brewis' important new study of student action describes the social and political changes, notably the increased participation of women, which underlay different forms of engagement. From the settlement movement through the 'student popular front' of the thirties, to international activities in the post war period, she demonstrates a story of both change and continuities. It opens up fresh perspectives for the study of British higher education and deserves to be widely read." - Nicholas Deakin, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, UK
"This is an important piece of scholarship which does what all good history should do—it tells a good story and sheds light on issues of current interest and relevance. The book takes in some of the key political, social and economic episodes of the twentieth century and throughout there are some great vignettes and some unexpected revelations. Overall, an excellent study, well researched, well written, and with significant relevance for today." - Justin Davis Smith, National Council for Voluntary Organisations
"Brewis' meticulous study of the history of student volunteering over a hundred-year period from the 1880s onwards does an awful lot to debunk the myth that the present day is an exceptional time for student volunteering. Focusing primarily, although not exclusively, on the experiences of student volunteering in the UK, the book explores different phases and practices of student volunteering and how this activity has developed in relationship to the expansion of higher education over the century. The book is structured chronologically and considers how different historical periods were associated with distinctive practices of student volunteering. The overarching theme of the book is that the history of student volunteering cannot be separated from the wider history of higher education, student experience and key social, political and economic events. The book will be of considerable interest to a range of scholars including historians of higher education and voluntarism but also to those working with student volunteers in the present day as it emphasises the need to locate student engagement within wider political and social debates and to understand how current practices are influenced by previous modes of engagement." - Voluntary Sector Review "This book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the history of voluntary action or the history of higher education. Georgina Brewis' book provides us with a huge amount of detail and creates a much 'thicker' history and nuanced understanding of student voluntarism. Researchers in this field will be able to mine it for a wide range of useful information and insights. A very worthwhile read." - Economic History Review
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