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Community Impacts of International Service-Learning and Study Abroad: An Analysis of Focus Groups with Program Leaders

Cynthia A. Wood, Sarah Banks, Shari Galiardi, Jennifer Koehn, Kathleen Schroeder


The ethical practice of international service-learning requires participants and institutions to examine their potential impacts on vulnerable host communities. This study reports on a series of focus groups with leaders of short-term international service-learning and other study abroad programs. The results of these focus groups suggests that while program leaders do not generally take into account the potential impacts of their programs on local communities in the design or implementation of their programs, they are very open to considering ways to mitigate negative impacts and promote positive ones once the issue has been raised. Program leaders are also collectively able to generate many excellent and creative strategies for improving their programs with respect to effects on communities, and are enthusiastic about engaging in this dialogue. We conclude that more research as well as substantial institutional commitment to addressing the community impacts of international service-learning and other study abroad programs are necessary for positive change, including training and other support to program leaders.



international service-learning, community impacts, civic engagement, community partnerships

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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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