Transformative Learning and Inclusion in a Global Social Work Course
As there are many types of global learning experiences for students, understanding best practices is critical in resource allocation and developing competencies. Additionally, diversifying global education is essential in addressing unequal student access and improving cross-cultural competence. This paper describes a short-term international course with graduate students from social work, public health, and nursing. Nine students participated in semi-structured interviews about the impact of the course on their lives. Transformative learning theory emerged as an important pedagogical guide as students described transformations in lifestyle and perspectives that developed through experiential learning. Recommendations for improving learning and increasing cultural and interprofessional learning include having guided group discussions on critical incidents, using a critical reflection process focused on cultural assumptions, and focusing on the psychological, convictional, and behavioral dimensions of learning. Traditionally underrepresented students described barriers related to international study, further emphasizing the importance of encouraging underrepresented students to pursue global opportunities through mentoring, targeted marketing, and making international experiences affordable and logistically feasible. Inclusion of students from different backgrounds in international courses is not only important in promoting social justice, but also enhances cross-cultural skill development and learning.
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