Social Justice Education in an International and Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Experience


  • Kate M Raymond University of Oklahoma


International service-learning experiences provide ripe opportunities to explore concepts of social justice with students. In this study, we describe the structure and intended purpose of a summer international, interdisciplinary service-learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students. We describe the ways in which these students engaged in social justice education and the experiences which the participants felt were most meaningful. Finally, we examine how experiences in this service-learning study abroad program influenced four undergraduate students’ beliefs and understandings of social justice. Participants generally cited those experiences which placed them in direct contact with different communities to be the most meaningful experiences. When these experiences allowed participants to connect the with contextual understandings of social systems and their effects on the people with whom they were working, the participants regarded these experiences as positive. However, when participants lacked sufficient knowledge to make these connections, the experiences were described as negative. Regardless, the participants reported increases in the five components of social justice education identified by Hackman (2005): multicultural group dynamics, their ability to engage in personal reflection, their content understanding, their ability to enact social change, and their ability to engage in critical analysis. Through their experiences, participants shifted their concept of social justice towards a more process focused conception (Rawls, 1985). 

Author Biography

Kate M Raymond, University of Oklahoma

Assistant Professor

Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum 

Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education