International Service-Learning

About a quarter of UGA’s study-abroad courses each year incorporate service-learning. Service-Learning Fellows and other faculty members have focused on developing and implementing effective international service-learning activities in diverse geographic settings ranging from UGA Costa Rica, to Japan, South Africa, Fiji, Ghana (both the interdisciplinary study abroad through the School of Social Work or through FACS), Ireland, Argentina and Tanzania, among others.

Contact the Office of Global Engagement for more information about study-abroad courses and programs.

In the GoAbroad portal, you can search directly for study abroad programs with a service-learning component. Go under Advanced Search, and then Type of Instruction and scroll down to service-learning to conduct this search.

There is a growing set of resources relating to global/international service-learning. These include:

GlobalSL website which includes a research and resource "wiki", syllabi, and blog.

2011 edited volume by Robert Bringle, Julie Hatcher, & Steven Jones,International Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Research











A student studying abroad with Dr. Denise Lewis (Child & Family Development) gains experience working with children in Cambodia. (Photo: Denise Lewis)

Although there is a wide range of structures and types of courses and programs that sometimes are considered global or international service-learning, Bringle and Hatcher (2011, p. 19) define international service-learning as:

"A structured academic experience in another country in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that addresses identified community needs; (b) learn from direct interaction and cross-cultural dialogue with others; and (c) reflect on the experience in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a deeper appreciation of the host country and the discipline, and an enhanced sense of their own responsibilities as citizens, locally and globally."

2011 Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award recipient Pratt Cassity, who has developed and led service-learning activities in Ghana, Thailand and Croatia, offers the following suggestions:

“Global service-learning follows the same precepts as other service-learning efforts with one major difference. It includes the notion of global citizenship, globalism, and problem solving in a context that is foreign to the student. The benefits of global service-learning are impressive. Beyond the obvious reward of gaining a greater understanding of another culture and immersion into the ways of life of different people is the advantage of students returning to their own homeland with a greater commitment to community service and civic engagement. This phenomenon is repeated over and over again in global service-learning, international volunteering and internships abroad.

Global service-learning should not be confused with study abroad or study travel. While the typical study abroad experience can be rich for students, global service-learning results in a deeper and more lasting appreciation of the conditions that others face and equips students with an enhanced ability to solve problems in a global setting. Global service-learning applies academic knowledge to the real world in an international, cross-cultural, or multi-national context. It is community service that builds intercultural relationships. Global service-learning involves a meaningful, community-driven project where a vital need has been identified. It is often about cultural immersion.

It is not a study travel trip.

It is not the traditional study abroad program.

It is not a broad brush overview of another country.

It is not just learning facts about another country or taking classes in a foreign setting.

These experiences are available anywhere. Global Service-Learning is different. It is the integration of learning into a process that improves quality of life, builds self-worth and strengthens human relationships. The critical thinking that comes from a service-learning experience is enriched in the global arena.”