The Development of Student's Understanding of Self, Inequality, and Service during a Critical International Service Learning Program in the Dominican Republict
Since January 2018, my colleague and I have co-led a two-week, three-credit critical international service learning course to Santiago de Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. Our course is designed to question and complicate students’ relationship to service through the use of intergroup dialogue pedagogy and theory. Intergroup dialogue (IGD) encourages students to understand one another across their social identities (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality, ability, etc.) by engaging in conversations around social issues and power that allow us to unpack our relationship to systems of oppression and inequality (Zúñiga 2003). My proposed research is focused on the 2020 iteration of this program and will look more closely at the impact on student learning to see how, if it all, students' ideas around identity, the nature of inequality, and the purpose of service shift throughout their experience abroad. Through analysis of student reflection journals and multiple interviews with participants, I hope to gain insight into this question. This research will add to the growing field of critical studies of international service learning by assessing whether or not our program and its pedagogy is able to undo oppressive ideologies and/or strengthen existing ideologies built on collective solidarity that our students carry regarding identity, inequality and service.
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