Service-Learning in an Increasingly Global Context


  • Matthew Hume Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Olivia Mondal St. John's Diocesan Girls' School



service-learning, community-engaged learning, intercultural, international, global education, pedagogical approaches, sustainability, exchange programs


Service-learning (SL), or community-engaged learning, refers to a project-based pedagogical approach that addresses community needs through coursework tied to academic, social/civic and personally impactful learning objectives. Originally emerging from research and practice in U.S. higher education, its inclusion in K-12 education in the US and international contexts has gained traction in recent years. Nevertheless, reports of implementation and effectiveness in international education are lacking. This article presents the impact of a two-week US Department of State-funded service-learning exchange program for 25 EFL teachers from 24 countries spanning the globe. Through academic sessions, site visits, and cultural activities led by an interdisciplinary team at a major Midwestern research university, participants were equipped to use SL in contextually appropriate ways for the teaching of both English and vital 21st century life skills. The authors begin with an overview of SL and a research-based account of its benefits for holistic learning, and especially for its application in English education. Following a description of the exchange program that highlights key aspects of the curriculum, the piece turns to participant reflections on selected aspects of SL in English language education. Finally, the authors suggest implications for the future of SL in a global context.

Author Biographies

Matthew Hume, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Matthew Hume is the Director of Educational Programs at the International Center for Intercultural Communication, IUPUI. He holds degrees from IUPUI and Yale University and has taught EAP and EOP in community colleges, universities, IEPs, and workplaces domestically and internationally. He served as Lead Instructor on this project.

Olivia Mondal, St. John's Diocesan Girls' School

Olivia Mondal is an English language educator at St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ School in Kolkata, India, and she is active in the U.S. Department of State’s English Access Microscholarship Program as both a teacher and mentor. She was one of 25 international teachers on this service-learning exchange program.