Service in a Narcissistic Age

Bud Gerber
Day/Time Taught: 
103: MW 2:00-3:15 pm; 108: MW 3:30–4:45 pm
Course Number: 

This course examines the growing perception that America’s youth are leaving behind an era of civic apathy, egoistic self-promotion, and materialism in order to answer the call to serve others. This perception finds support in trends that include: the rise in military enlistments; increased interest in the Peace Corp and AmeriCorps; participation in church missions and such long-term service programs as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the Jewish Coalition for Service; and the popularity of Service Learning on college campuses. But the present movement toward service takes place in a social landscape that bears little similarity to the late 1930s and 1950s, when FDR and JFK sounded their appeals. The United States is a far more affluent, fragmented and fractious society than it was then. More to the point, young people, in the eyes of many expert commentators, have become a “Me Generation” that is dangerously self-absorbed, “tribal,” and pre-occupied with the quest for fame. They are, in the words of Jean Twenge, victims of “The Narcissism Epidemic.” Foregrounding these latter factors, our course debates the thesis that volunteerism and a new ethic of service are sustainable. In order to “get real” with this topic, students will be engaged in a Service Learning Project from the very start of the course.


Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Dr. Martha McCaughey

QEP Global Learning