Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 4, No 1 (2014)

Critical Global Citizenship and International Service Learning

Marianne A. Larsen


This article is based on a case study analyzing the impact of a long-term international service learning (ISL) internship on 8 university students. Specifically, the study set out to understand how ISL can contribute to developing university students as critically engaged global citizens. A conceptual framework of Critical Global Citizenship provides the basis for the study and analysis of the data.  There are 2 inter-related components of the conceptual framework used to understand critical global citizenship: Awareness/Analysis and Action/Engagement. Awareness/Analysis includes 4 dimensions: Awareness of Difference, the Self, Global Issues and Responsibility. Action/Engagement includes 3 dimensions: Self, Civic and Social Justice Action. The study aimed to understand what kinds of global citizens are constructed through ISL, and some of the variables (e.g. gender, background experience) that have an impact on these processes. There were three data sources: online intern blogs, a pre- and post-survey, and an interview following their internship. Data analysis demonstrates that while there is evidence that students shifted towards becoming global citizens, in most cases this shift did not incorporate critically, engaged forms of global citizenship, especially those related to social justice action. This international experience operated in ways to reinforce global citizenship dispositions, attitudes and actions that had already been previously formed in these students. This points to the importance of considering the intensification effect of long-term international experiences on the development of students as global citizens.


international service learning; critical global citizenship

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