Community Engagement in Global Learning
Ensuring mutual benefit and safety in global learning experiences
Global community engagement experiences, if not well designed, may have unintended negative consequences and fail to improve the well-being of host communities. There is an urgent international need to address this issue as pre-professional and professional students seek out or are actively recruited to participate in global volunteer experiences.
In poorly designed programs, host communities are exposed to untrained volunteers that frequently do not speak the local language, lack requisite cultural knowledge necessary for offering culturally appropriate care and provide casual labor that fail to offer sustainable care that host communities need to see substantial gains in community well-being.
Shared Authority between Community and University CollaboratorsAn appropriate cross cultural and ethical collaboration always respects the right of the host partner(s) to define the program, including the needs to be addressed and the role of the host.
Respect for Diverse Sources of Knowledge, including Expertise of Local ProfessionalsAll programs should value a mutuality of learning and demonstrate a respect for the knowledge and expertise of local professionals, allowing them to lead whenever possible.
Respect for Governance and Ethical Standards (at home and abroad)All programs should demonstrate a respect for local governance and abide by the legal and ethical standards of the host partner(s) and host country(ies).
Adequate Preparation and Attending to Power DifferencesIn the recruitment, preparation, and supervision of program participants, every opportunity should be taken to educate and remind participants of the ethical and cross cultural pitfalls of volunteering when there are disparities in power and affluence.
Emphasis on Sustainability and ContinuityEvery effort should be taken to insure the sustainability and continuity of programs with the host partner(s) in order to avoid the exploitation of the partner’s needs for the volunteer’s benefit. Unsustainable initiatives are unethical as well as unproductive.
Ongoing Assessment and EvaluationAll programs should be periodically and systemically evaluated for impact - positive and negative - on the host partner(s) as well as the participants.
The toolkit is a collection of resources that support the development and implementation of and participation in ethical community engagement in global learning.