Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Third Advisor

Dr. Timothy Ready


Different conceptualizations of service‐learning are found in higher education, ranging from charity to social justice focused. Little is known about the lasting impact of social justice focused service-learning on undergraduate participants, especially in a global education setting. This study examined the experience and meaning making of participants of critical international service-learning (ISL) over time. Nineteen alumni of five ISL courses at three different higher education institutions were interviewed in this phenomenological study. Participants described contrasting experiences of being both stretched and destabilized, friend and foreigner, and finding the service‐learning both enjoyable and unsettling. The long term impact of ISL course participation was increased awareness of self, culture, and the world, more complex thinking, and changes in vocation, interpersonal relationships, and lifestyle. Programmatic elements of the course that added to the participants’ experience were identified. Finally, links were made between the findings of this study and transformative learning theory. Ultimately, this study reveals some disparity in critical service-learning in theory and in practice, the importance of connectedness, the challenge of building reciprocal relationships in global education, and the benefit of examining students’ experience over time.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access