Academic Service Abroad: Confronting our Limitations

By Spencer S. Stober.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Academic institutions are uniquely qualified to engage students in educational experiences that improve the human condition at home and abroad. If these service-learning projects are to effectively sustain communities for the long term, then academic institutions must take steps to overcome the limitations imposed by the academic culture and professors/students with worldviews that may not reflect the essential factors for a sustainable community. The Bernardine Franciscan Sisters established a Mission school in the barrio of Los Tres Brazos in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). Ten health care professionals earning their on-line Health Care MBA at Alvernia College (USA) selected the Mission school and surrounding community for their service project. Chang’s (2007) adaptation of McPhatter’s (1997) “cultural competence attainment model” serves as a theoretical framework to describe how the humanitarian service course developed by this author overcomes several challenges for service-learning courses. The importance of service-learning as a legitimate academic endeavor, and the value of a shared vision through a long-term partnership with a community to service are considered. Student reactions and sustainable outcomes for this course are also described. This service-learning course may serve as a model for other colleges and universities interested in developing sustainable service projects.

Keywords: Community Service, Humanitarian Service, Service-Learning, Sustainable Communities

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.107-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.283MB).

Dr. Spencer S. Stober

Associate Professor, Department of Science and Math, Alvernia College, Reading, PA, USA

Dr. Spencer S. Stober is Associate Professor of Biology at Alvernia College in Reading, Pennsylvania, and a member of the Department of Science and Math. He has taught Biology for 30 years and regularly teaches courses in Cell Biology, Botany, and Genetics at the undergraduate level. Since receiving his Ed.D. at Temple University with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, he has additionally taught courses in education and leadership at the graduate level. In 2005 he received Alvernia’s Christian R. & Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Stober has also served in a number of key administrative positions at Alvernia College, including Department Chairperson, Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies. His research interests include the intersection between religion and science, and environmental sustainability. He often travels internationally with students to places such as Costa Rica, Galapagos Islands, and the Dominican Republic. At a local level, Dr. Stober is engaged in land use and regional planning where he serves as Vice President of the Adamstown Borough Council.

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