November 07, 2017

Global Service-Learning courses sharpen worldview

Dr. Nuria Alonso Garciá, associate professor of global studies and secondary education, second from left in top row, led students in her Storytellers in Our Communities service-learning class on a trip to Nicaragua in August 2017. Here, class members join first-year students — Waves of Hope Scholars — from other colleges and universities at a high school in El Manzanillo.
Dr. Nuria Alonso Garciá, associate professor of global studies and secondary education, second from left in top row, led students in her Storytellers in Our Communities service-learning class on a trip to Nicaragua in August 2017. Here, class members join first-year students — Waves of Hope Scholars — from other colleges and universities at a high school in El Manzanillo.

The world becomes the classroom for students who take one of the College’s global service-learning courses, in which academic inquiry and travel abroad combine with service and reflection for a distinct educational experience.

The Global Service-Learning Program, formally established in academic year 2013-14, is coordinated by the Feinstein Institute for Public Service and the Department of Global Studies, in partnership with the Center for International Studies. An outgrowth of Feinstein’s alternative spring break trips, which started in the early 1990s, the program is open to students of all academic disciplines and is offered during the summer, fall, and spring terms.

Courses build upon classroom lessons and discussions with a travel experience in which students and their instructors work with community partners and establish mutual relationships with nonprofit organizations. Ten of the 15 course-related trips offered to date have been to either Nicaragua or Mexico, while participants also have traveled to South Africa, Ecuador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.

Social justice is a core component of several of the courses, with students examining issues such as literacy, food security, and social infrastructures.

A total of 177 students have participated in the first four years of the program, which is supported in part through a grant provided by Santander Universities.