Good Intentions Aren’t Good Enough Actionable Steps and Resources Towards Ethical and Sustainable International Service Learning Programs

Main Article Content

Christina Tomasik


In recent years, the industry of international service learning has become highly commodified, in both the private and corporate sector, with half-hearted attempts by companies to give tourists an “authentic” and “transformative” experience, without really asking what these words mean. Most notably, there has been a boom in higher education for students to participate in such projects, and with the rise of short term and long term service-learning programs, there becomes the need for accountability and consistency to ensure rigor. This article details the action research study I conducted over the course of 2 years that culminated in a curriculum designed to educate faculty as they consider taking on the intercultural, pedagogical and logistical challenges of building an international service-learning partnership.  This curriculum developed as a solution to problems and concerns about faculty approaches at one school, and this essay uses journal excerpts and discussion to follow the timeline of my own growing awareness of that problem. Included is my involvement in two service learning programs as a student and eventually my role in a committee created to revamp the programs at a small New England university. The findings from this process can support other programs that are looking to review their projects for sustainability and alignment with moral ethics, and examine how they improve learning of social media, intercultural communication, power, and privilege.

Article Details

How to Cite
Tomasik, C. (2021). Good Intentions Aren’t Good Enough: Actionable Steps and Resources Towards Ethical and Sustainable International Service Learning Programs. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research , 12, 17-46. Retrieved from
Research Articles