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Improving Partnerships: Applying Lessons Learned to Improve Partnerships in Innovative Educational Experiences

Laura Hosman


Forming partnerships beyond academia can be an effective method for universities to offer students unique educational experiences, including in the form of experiential, service-based, and/or immersion learning. Although the incidence of such partnerships appears to be increasing significantly, scholarly analysis focusing upon them has not kept pace. What scholarly work does exist frequently focuses on success stories, yet this renders an incomplete overall picture, as the introduction of change to any established (educational) model will introduce the possibility for multiple challenges, and there is a great deal of value not only in presenting and discussing these challenges, but in the opportunity to learn from them. This article contributes to the body of literature on such partnerships by discussing the potential for both added value and challenges that partnerships introduce to many different educational approaches and contexts. It presents an in-depth case study of a multi-semester, project-focused, team-based course that formed and relied upon outside-of-academia partnerships in order to realize an experiential, service-based learning, international immersion experience for the students. Over the course of nearly two years, the partnerships proved to be enabling, rewarding, and challenging—not fitting neatly into any particular category. The article concludes with lessons learned from the experience with broader implications for future, like-minded endeavors.


Partnerships; experiential learning; service-learning; team-based work; project-based work; international immersion learning

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Partnerships is sponsored by North Carolina Campus Compact, and hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. ISSN: 1944-1061
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