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Research Articles

Vol. 27 No. 3

Toward a Transformative GSL Ethics: How Global Service-Learning Faculty Reconcile Clashing Personal and Institutional Values Surrounding GSL

December 17, 2019


Global service-learning (GSL) course offerings have expanded rapidly in the last decade at U.S. universities and colleges, yet faculty are not always prepared for the ethical challenges of development work with disadvantaged communities in international settings. Based on a qualitative study of 25 GSL faculty across a range of higher education institutions in the United States, this article describes what drives faculty members to participate in GSL, analyzes the community engagement principles that guide their GSL work, and assesses how they cope with the dissonance that arises when striving to meet the sometimes-conflicting needs of students, communities, and educational institutions. We find that these faculty employ a “transformative GSL ethics” to realize their motivations and visions for a counter-normative approach to community engagement. We argue that higher education institutions must shift their norms, values, and practices with respect to professional development and pedagogy if they are to continue promoting the GSL agenda.