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International Civic Engagement: From Development Studies and Service-Learning, to Miami University-Dominica Partnerships

Thomas Klak, Emma Gaalaas Mullaney

Abstract


During the past four years, faculty, students, and staff from Miami University have been cultivating civic engagement relationships with citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica, in the Eastern Caribbean. For members of the Miami University community, this has been an effort to create opportunities for learning and scholarship through partnerships with people in the Global South who are working for community empowerment, progressive change, and sustainable development. For our Dominican counterparts, benefits include financial inputs, manual labor, relevant research projects, and an outside interest in contributing positively to ameliorating their community challenges. We work to base the Miami University-Dominica relationships on trust, long-term commitment, and mutuality, so that the benefits go back and forth in myriad ways. The result has been a set of relationships across international borders and cultural differences that is more fulfilling for both sides than typical study abroad, research, or ecotourism encounters in the Global South. This paper describes the conceptual underpinnings of this international civic engagement, and recounts three examples of the kinds of community groups and activities that the partnerships involve. We also note where the project has encountered constraints and limitations, and our next steps in the effort. We hope this example can serve as a template and motivation for other university groups to commit to cultivating civic engagement relationships with people and communities in the Global South.

 

KEYWORDS

civic engagement; community engagement; community partnerships; sustainability


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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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