Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Curtis Porter, Ph.D.


International service-learning scholars state the need for more research on sustainable service programs (Cushman, 2002), service programs that are reciprocal (Welch, 2002), and instructor and community member perspectives (D’Arlach, Sanchez, & Feuer, 2009). As a result, I developed this study because I wanted to understand how sustainable international service-learning could be fostered through a redefinition of reciprocity, as well as a focus on locality. Because there has been less focus on teacher’s experiences in the international service-learning classroom, I also wondered how my perspective as an international service-learning instructor is unique and how what I learned through this time might contribute to the field. As a result, my research questions for this dissertation study are as follows:

1. How did I evolve as a teacher over the course of this project?

2. How does my evolution speak to the larger field of service-learning?

Through a reflective inquiry of my own teaching experiences, as well as an analysis of different intersections of my life that contribute to my role as a teacher-scholar, I focus on what it means for an international service-learning course to be sustainable. As a result, this book is divided into a prologue and five chapters. Each chapter begins with a narrative intended to link my teaching, and life, experiences to international service-learning. The prologue through chapter three includes the significance of the research, the reasoning behind focusing on my own teaching practices, a discussion of my research questions, a thorough review of the relevant literature, and a discussion of the methodology—all interwoven with narratives focusing on the importance of international service-learning in the writing classroom. These narratives also highlight how I have evolved as an instructor.

Chapter four aims to redefine reciprocity in order to encourage better relationships between service-learning programs and the community. Findings include the need for more diversity in the classroom and service sites, and the allowance for student resistance in order to encourage true reciprocity.

The next chapter presents a discussion on the role locality plays in international service-learning pedagogy and encourages readers to purposefully design service projects in conjunction with the local community in order for more sustainable programs.

Finally, this book concludes with an analysis of how I have evolved as an international service-learning instructor through my experiences in life, teaching, and writing this book.