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Our service-learning curriculum introduces students to sustainable development, both in content and practice. It sandwiches 1 – 2 weeks of service-learning abroad in the middle of a short-term course. This approach to service-learning has three parts: (1) study in one’s home country, (2) short-term service abroad with a host community, and (3) another period of study and evaluation back at home following the abroad experience (Chisolm, 2003; Plater, Jones, Bringle, & Clayton, 2009). These three parts of the course are discrete in time yet well integrated; learning about and interacting with the host community as well as academic study occur before, during, and after the time abroad. In this course, we will spend approximately two weeks on each of these three parts, which additionally incorporate a period of integrated reflection that serves to deepen student learning.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Using the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), this course provides an opportunity to examine the complexities of global challenges and opportunities, the interconnections both among them and between them and local practices, and our own potential contributions to building a better world. Each service-learning project is co-created with local community members to advance one or more of the UN SDGs in accordance with short- and long-term strategic planning undertaken collaboratively by the local community and GVI. Our primary purposes are (a) to build our individual and collective capacities as agents of sustainable development, local to global and (b) to contribute to ongoing work in communities abroad to advance environmental conservation and community development.

After evaluating their international experiences, our aim is for students to become active global citizens, who are knowledgeable and passionate about sustainable development and current global issues, and who will use this knowledge to impact and drive their future choices and career options.

Curriculum Structure

Our global service-learning programs incorporate five primary learning goals, each of which is composed of specific student learning objectives (SLOs, expressed in accordance with Bloom’s Taxonomy) that guide the design of daily and weekly activities. Service work is an integral part of our course design, and is accompanied by integrated reflection periods, field excursions, and a mutual learning model whereby students work/learn alongside community members. Our service-learning courses also focus on personal, civic, and professional development, with particular attention to employability and global citizenship, which are just a few of the benefits of service learning.

Our syllabus is a hybrid model delivered online and in-country, one we use to structure and teach our own courses. Alternatively, we can provide resources to faculty to complement their existing courses or curriculum.

To see what our students thought of their service learning experience, read our educational testimonials.


Intercultural Competency

Increased Employability


Professional Development

Global Citizenship

Be a global citizen. Act with passion and compassion. Help us make this world safer and more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us. That is our moral responsibility.

Ban-Ki Moon

United Nations Secretary-General

The 5 Learning Goals

Learning Goal 1

Students will understand key ideas and practices in service-learning (SL).

Learning Goal 2

Students will understand key characteristics -- historical, ecological, political, economic, social, and cultural -- of their host community, including connections to their home communities and to the broader global community as well as the influence of those characteristics on attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Learning Goal 3

Students will be able to critically examine global issues and work being done to address them through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) as those issues and that work emerge in their home communities (local and national), their host community (local and national), and worldwide.

Learning Goal 4

Students will be able to critically examine and revise (a) their assumptions about people from other cultures and (b) their communication practices when interacting with people from other cultures so as to enhance both (a) their effectiveness and (b) their appropriateness as contributing members and/or leaders of impactful, change-oriented multi-cultural teams in international environments.

Learning Goal 5

Students will be able to critically examine and revise (a) their own abilities / strengths / capacities / skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, patience, flexibility/adaptability, confidence, problem-solving, project management, leadership, resilience in the face of challenges, creativity, ethical practice, democratic engagement) and (b) their personal, academic, professional, and civic choices -- both in light of their potential influence on the SDGs.