Danger!

We wrote this book and developed this website because we and the community members we’ve worked with believe that critical, community-driven service-learning can have important outcomes for community members and visitors, but we understand that assumption is heavily dependent on careful planning and partnership. We do not want to oversimplify the very real dangers involved in global service-learning, which include not only physical hazards, but the possibility of doing harm through poorly planned or ineffectively implemented service-learning programs.

As we clearly demonstrate in the book, long-term and careful planning processes in relationships that continuously strive for equal standing and mutual respect are essential. In this vein, individuals and institutions sometimes partner with ‘provider organizations’ that facilitate service partnerships or volunteer vacations. We recommend careful consideration of the explicit principles, demonstrated practices, and available reviews of such organizations. We have worked with and endorse the nonprofit organization Amizade Global Service-Learning, but we’re aware that other good organizations exist as well.

Safety and security is a continuous concern, and organizations engaged in global service-learning should meet and exceed study abroad standards developed by NAFSA: The Association of International Educators or The Forum on Education Abroad.

There are many ways to make an important, positive difference from home, and if you do not have enough time or resources to engage in a global service-learning program now, there are still resources here to support conscious consumption, individual philanthropy, and advocacy for human rights.

We believe deeply in the importance and transformative power of global service-learning done well. That’s why we hope to see exponential growth in the resources shared here. It’s important work – and far too important to engage in recklessly. We look forward to careful conversation and conscientious, community-driven action on behalf of building a better world. Please comment or send us an email at buildingbetterworld(at)gmail(dot)com if you would like to propose a discussion on the blog. Of course, you can always contribute resources directly to the wiki as well.