What DO we know about Global Service-Learning?

Duke and Washington University academic-practitioners Eric Mlyn and Amanda Moore McBride recently penned a commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Ed, International Volunteer Service: Good Intentions are Not Enough. It’s a good, balanced piece that does expose some of the best practices and inherent risks in global service-learning, but it does not demonstrate the growing community of scholars and practitioners engaged in rigorous consideration and evaluation of global service-learning. Though we don’t anticipate regularly updating this site until April, we thought this was a good time to share some of these numerous emerging resources.

There is clearly a growing group of thoughtful community development practitioners and bloggers who are extremely critically of international volunteerism, but also know that it can be done well and are eager to share some approaches that have worked. Prominent in this area is Saundra Schimmelpfennig at Good Intentions are Not Enough. Saundra regularly shares excellent related resources via her Twitter feed (like this recent Participation Handbook for Humanitarian Fieldworkers) and also manages to connect with and share content from new voices, including Daniela Papi of lessonsilearned. Daniela has posted multiple  times, 3, 4, 5, and more) on international volunteering done well – and is articulating a model of “learning service” rather than service-learning.

The university research community is also moving forward with significant new insights in this area, including (in the Michigan Journal – the field’s most respected journal):

Additionally, IUPUI researchers Robert Bringle, Julie Hatcher, and Stephen Jones recently edited the volume International Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Research. That book contains considerable and diverse insights from a number of researchers representing numerous institutions, as does Green and Johnson’s forthcoming Crossing Boundaries: Tension and Transformation in International Service-Learning (Stylus). In many ways, the resources summarized above are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll be bringing much more together in the months to come, including numerous important articles from Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad.

It’s clear through these sources and elsewhere that global service-learning offers considerable risk and the possibility of significant reward – for educators, community members, and students, together. More evaluation and better program development is needed. Yet we also need to better understand the considerable resources that already exist. The vision behind this website is to offer free teaching materials, community development approaches, and reflective resources. We would like to share those resources from and with others who are gathered with us in this concern for education and development that builds a better world. Our resource file cabinet is here, but please also explore the other links related to development, human rights, and other related themes.

If you have a comment, question, or resource you’d like to share, we would absolutely love to hear from you. If you’d like to be informed of additional resources and conversations as we build and update this site, simply follow us on Twitter or provide your email address using the links in the right column. Thanks for reading and thanks for your patience as we build the site and work out the kinks!

Today’s post contributed by: Eric Hartman

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