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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Rebecca A. McNamara
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Traveling with a Purpose: Stories of Contradiction and Transformation in International Service-Learning
Dr. Donna Talbot, Chair
Dr. Andrea Beach
Dr. Timothy Ready
Date: Friday, June 29, 2012 10:00 a.m. to Noon
2211 Sangren Hall
Different conceptualizations of service-learning are found in higher education, ranging in focus from charity to social justice. Little is known about the lasting impact of social justice focused service-learning on undergraduate participants, especially in a global education setting. This study examines the experience and meaning-making of participants of critical international service-learning (ISL) over time. Nineteen alumni of five ISL courses at three different institutions are interviewed in this phenomenological study. Participants describe contrasting experiences of being both stretched and destabilized, friend and foreigner, and finding the service-learning both enjoyable and unsettling. The long term impact of ISL course participation reveals an increased awareness of self, culture, and the world, more complex thinking skills, and changes in vocation, interpersonal relationships, and lifestyle. Programmatic elements of the course are identified which add to the participants’ experiences. Finally, links are made between the findings of this study and transformative learning theory. Ultimately, this study reveals some disparity in critical service-learning in theory and in practice, the importance of connectedness, the challenge of building reciprocal relationships in global education, and the benefit of examining students’ experience over time.