The Intended and Unintended Consequences of International Service-Learning

Robbin D. Crabtree


Previous research on service-learning in international contexts tends
to focus on the benefits and outcomes for students and educational
institutions. This essay is intended to provoke further examination
of issues related to university-community engagement in global
contexts, particularly in terms of the consequences for host communities.
In order to explore complex issues surrounding international
service-learning, the author offers a composite scenario in a series of
snapshots gleaned from projects organized by U.S.-based organizations
and universities in partnership with host country organizations
and communities. Revealed are a variety of typical outcomes—
intended and unintended, positive and negative—for students,
faculty, organizations and their staff, and the communities that host
visiting service-learning teams. A framework for analysis is offered
along with recommendations for ways to mitigate potential unintended
negative consequences of international service-learning.

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