Learning Agreement

 

Learning Agreement and Application 2021

THEO 33970: Global Issues
THEO 33938: Summer Service Learning: Confronting Social Issues: International

 
Introduction

Despite dramatic changes throughout the world, we continue to see widening disparities between the rich and the poor and people of color. This is seen most clearly in the current context of the global coronavirus pandemic. The lack of basic resources, access to health, education, and employment, remain a challenge for developing and non-industrialized nations. In nations marred by political conflict and violence, efforts of peace, reconciliation, and democratization are slow with its effects seen most clearly in the lives of the poor.

As we continue to face these and other global concerns, the need to educate students about their responsibility in our global community becomes ever apparent. It becomes increasingly important to educate students willing to examine causes of poverty and to create links of solidarity across borders.

In the summer of 1998, the Center for Social Concerns initiated the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) with these and other hopes. This program is built on the marvelous tradition of domestic and international summer service projects developed by the Community of International Lay Apostolate (CILA) and the Center for Social Concerns.

The ISSLP seeks to provide international service-learning experiences in social concerns inspired by Gospel values and Catholic social teachings. The Center shares in the University’s mission to create an environment of teaching and learning that cultivate “a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice" (The Mission Statement of the University of Notre Dame).

 
General Program Objectives
  • To challenge students who have had domestic service-learning experiences to encounter international realities and to provide them the opportunity to work with and learn from the poor and marginalized in international settings. 
  • To educate students willing to examine causes of poverty and injustice and to create links of solidarity across borders in response to the Notre Dame/Center for Social Concerns mission "to serve and act for a more just and humane world.”
  • To provide students the opportunity to work with persons and grassroots groups working to address the needs of the poor and marginalized, to learn from their lived reality and insights about the social, political, economic, religious and cultural forces operative in their communities.
  • To contribute to the continuing value and experiential justice education and leadership development of students, alumni/ae, and educators related to the Notre Dame global community.
 
Course Learning Goals

Goal 1: Students will gain an understanding of the multi-dimensionality of poverty in emerging economies (developing countries), identify root causes, and examine strategies for development.

       Goal 1 Objectives:

  1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the multi-dimensionality of global poverty.
  2. Students will gain tools for social analysis in order to identify root causes of poverty.
  3. Students will examine the ways the social institution, through the service-learning placement and by looking at the agency's mission, history, governance, and socio-economic demographic of its clientele, relates to the political, social, economic, and demographic conditions of the larger society (host country) in order to address poverty.

Goal 2: Students will gain an understanding of global social issues in light of Catholic Social Teaching (specifically through the themes of Solidarity and Preferential Option for the Poor).

Goal 3: Students will develop a global citizenship orientation and outlook while strengthening cross-cultural competencies.

 
ISSLP and the Coronavirus Pandemic

In March 2020, as the coronavirus was developing into what would be a global pandemic, the University made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend all summer 2020 outbound international education programs which included the ISSLP 2020.

In planning for ISSLP 2021, program staff will be working closely with University administration and Notre Dame International to make final determinations for spring class sessions and the international summer service-learning placement. 

The ISSLP is moving forward to plan for both in-person and virtual scenarios for ISSLP 2021: 

THEO 33970 Global Issues Course: Spring Semester Pre-Departure Orientation Program:

ISSLP will plan for both in-person and online instruction as directed by the University. This includes the required THEO 33970 Global Issues class sessions, trainings, and the ISSLP cross-cultural training and retreat weekend.

International Service-Learning Placements:

It is the ultimate hope, but unlikely, that ISSLP will be allowed to deploy all participants to all country locations for in-person immersion. The more realistic hopeful scenario is that some participants will deploy to their country locations for in-person service-learning while other participants will carry out the service-learning component in virtual mode. In the event that no students are allowed to travel internationally, ISSLP will work with students to accommodate virtual service-learning with other international partners. Length of the international summer service-learning placements, whether in-person or virtual, will vary between three to eight weeks.

See the ISSLP Site Descriptions for which sites are available for in-person and/or virtual service-learning. For sites currently noted as “to be determined” for virtual service-learning, the ISSLP staff continues to work with international site partners to explore, design, and develop virtual service-learning projects in the event that students are not permitted to travel or opt not to travel internationally.

Optional Learning-Living Community for Virtual Service-Learning Placements:

For those students who are not permitted to travel or opt not to travel internationally, and must complete their service-learning virtually, the ISSLP is developing a “learning-living community” option. The option includes an opportunity to live in an intentional community with other ISSLP participants, conduct virtual service-learning projects individually or in small groups with international partners, and engage in ongoing learning about global issues, and how global issues are localized in South Bend and the region, through guest lectures, workshops, seminar discussions, community activities, and local and regional excursions. Students would live together in a dorm or retreat facility on campus or in the South Bend area, make meals, and build community. This learning-living community option will take place over 3-4 weeks, starting soon after spring finals and Commencement (dates to be determined), and depending on facility availability and the current coronavirus guidance. Should the virtual service-learning work continue past the learning-living community timeframe, it is expected that participants will complete the project or scope of work that is expected of them. All costs associated with this option will be covered by the ISSLP and the full ISSLP stipend will be awarded.

Decision Making & Criteria for In-Person Classes & International Travel Deployment:

The University Reopening Advisory Committee will make the decision to conduct class instruction virtually or in-person for the spring semester. 

The University Reopening Advisory Committee also makes the decision with regards to University sponsored international travel and deployment for study abroad, international service-learning, and international research and internships with input from international program directors at centers and institutes as requested. 

As was the case in February-March 2020, the Center’s ISSLP staff will be monitoring each ISSLP country location in collaboration with ISSLP in-country site partners. Criteria used to determine travel and in-person international service, includes but is not limited to U.S. State Department issued worldwide and country travel restrictions; entrance restrictions, visa issuance, and quarantine requirements with regards to U.S. or foreign travelers; in-country mobility restrictions; in-country testing capacity; country, regional, and local hospital beds, ICU, and ventilators capacity; the capacity of ISSLP site partners to host students from the U.S. safely; the potential of U.S. students as potential carriers and transmission of the virus to vulnerable populations; real time data and modelling projections globally and nationally. Decisions and policies with U.S. and international higher education peer institutions in addition to institutional, programmatic, and individual risk tolerance are further  factors.

As is policy in normal times, the ISSLP has sole discretion, at any time, to cancel a site placement, not deploy students, or withdraw a student from the program for any reason should the safety and well-being of the student, site partners, and/or the ISSLP program be compromised.

Withdraw Policy

The ISSLP is in the process of developing a withdraw policy. The ISSLP is committed to working with each student and to allow for maximum flexibility. Conscious of the difficulty with making decisions in the context of uncertainty and limited information and understanding that the pandemic itself and family circumstances are fluid during this time, the ISSLP is committed to open and transparent communication with students and asks the same from students.

 

Partnerships

The Center for Social Concerns seeks to partner with faith-based, non-governmental, and community-based organizations that are addressing the needs of the poor and marginalized in emerging economies or areas of political conflict throughout the world. The ISSLP and the Center for Social Concerns collaborate with various offices, departments, centers, and institutes of the University.

 
Academic Requirements

In addition to the service-learning placement (length varied, up to eight weeks) with an ISSLP partner, academic requirements of the ISSLP include:

THEO 33970 Global Issues:  This 1.0 credit course (graded S/U) is the ISSLP Orientation Program which is mandatory for all ISSLP participants and includes weekly classes, public lectures, special training sessions, and a weekend long cross-cultural training and retreat. Registration and active participation is required. Starting spring semester 2021, classes meet weekly 6:30-8:00 pm on Thursdays. Other public lectures and trainings scheduled during other days of the week will be noted in the course syllabus. The mandatory cross-cultural training and retreat is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of February 5-6, 2021.

ISSLP 2020 students who completed THEO 33970 in spring 2020 are exempt but are welcome to participate in any aspect of the spring 2021 orientation program. Additionally, special events, certain sessions, or activities may be strongly encouraged.

THEO 33938 Summer Service Learning: Confronting Social Issues International: This 3.0 credit course is mandatory for all ISSLP participants and active participation is required. The course comprises the eight-week summer service-learning immersion; summer course readings and keeping a written journal; writing a final integrative paper or special project; ISSLP Fall Re-entry Program which includes fall semester class sessions (meeting weekly 6:30-8:45 pm on Thursdays during the month of September through early October), readings and writing academic requirements, a public presentation integrating and sharing your experience, and a re-entry day of reflection tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 23, 2021.

Optional: Students are encouraged to consider enrolling for directed readings or courses related to the host country either prior to or after their ISSLP.

Logistical and program administration assistance: Help to develop and evaluate the ISSLP through the completion of evaluations and research surveys, publicize and recruit future participants, participate in the interview and selection process for the next ISSLP cohort, and help with the orientation of future participants.  

For students studying abroad in fall and/or spring semesters: Students who will be abroad in the spring semester will not enroll in the 1.0 credit course THEO 33970 but are still required to submit weekly assignments via email from abroad and to complete the summer and fall academic requirements.  Students abroad in the fall following their ISSLP will not entroll in the 3.0 credit course THEO 33938 but are still required to complete all summer academic components as well as submit weekly written assignments via email to satisfy fall academic requirements in lieu of participation in the fall on-campus re-entry components. Students will receive academic credit for THEO 33938 the semester they return to campus.

The THEO 33970 spring syllabus, ISSLP summer course reader and student guide further detail the academic requirements of the courses. When all requirements are satisfied, students will earn 1.0 credit in THEO 33970 Global Issues (graded S/U), 3.0 credits in THEO 33938 Summer Service Learning: Confronting Social Issues International (graded S/U), and a social concerns award of $1,000.00 maximum (retracted if academic course requirements are not fulfilled). 

 
Academic Integration

Prior to departure, students are encouraged to investigate integration of the ISSLP with a senior thesis, an independent study, directed reading, or related course in their department(s) or through research with a faculty member in an appropriate area of study.

 
Application, Selection, & Registration

Application deadline is 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 11, 2020.  Prior participation in Center programs or prior international travel is not required.  Strong candidates for the ISSLP are those who have had sustained service or cross-cultural learning experience and demonstrated leadership, independent service initiative, and/or involvement with Center for Social Concerns' courses and programs.

The selection process involves finding a “match” of the site’s mission and work needs with a student’s academic interest, coursework, prior service and leadership experience, language and work skills, and site work interest. The students to whom we offer positions in the ISSLP are the best pairing of these factors.

Students who were accepted to ISSLP 2020 but not deployed due to the coronavirus will be given priority placement for ISSLP 2021 with their original sites. Many sites have expanded capacity to accommodate more students than typical for either in person or virtual service-learning, so the ISSLP will be extending as many positions as possible within our budget.

Selection for interviews will be based on the written application. Students will be notified by email of their status for interviews by Tuesday, October 20, 2020. If accepted to interview for the program, interviews will take place from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Saturday, October 24, 2020 and Sunday, October 25, 2020. Students will be notified of acceptance into the program through a formal letter of invitation via email on November 23, 2020. Once accepted into the program, students will be expected to commit their participation in writing via email no later than December 2, 2020. Students accepted into the ISSLP must register for courses, THEO 33970 Global Issues (spring semester 2021) and THEO 33938 Summer Service Learning Confronting Social Issues International (fall semester 2021), through InsideND. 

For students studying abroad in fall and/or spring semesters, please see the requirements and terms outlined in “Academic Requirements” above. Students who will be abroad in the spring semester will not register for the 1.0 credit course THEO 33970. Students abroad in the fall will formally add THEO 33938 in the semester they return to campus.

Students accepted into the ISSLP are accepted on a contingency basis until verification of academic standing, health status, resident life, and criminal background checks are satisfied. Ongoing participation in the program and actual deployment is contingent upon satisfying the proper background checks required of the University.  

The ISSLP has sole discretion, at any time, to cancel a site placement, not deploy students, or withdraw a student from the program for any reason should the safety and well-being of the student, site partners, and/or the ISSLP program be compromised.

 
Expenses

The ISSLP provides the student with a social concerns award of $1,000.00. This social concerns award is to be used to assist with expenses related to additional meals and drinking water not provided with the site’s housing arrangement, local/in-country transportation, recommended vaccinations, passport, travel visa, entrance and exit fees, and other related travel expenses incurred during the eight week service-learning immersion. The social concerns award will be impacted/retracted if academic course requirements are not fulfilled, if the student drops the courses, and/or vacates the service-learning placement prematurely. 

The ISSLP pays for the student’s round-trip airfare to and from the country based on least expensive fare from student’s home state or point of origination, basic food and lodging associated with the site placement, international health and medical evacuation insurance, and any applicable site fees.   

Please note certain sites may have a “Special Funding Obligation” and is noted on the site description.

Travel arrangements will be coordinated by Anthony Travel or an approved travel agency and the Center for Social Concerns. 

Costs associated with travel extraneous to the ISSLP are the students’ financial responsibility. Extraneous and tourism travel is prohibited during the eight-week service-learning placement and any such travel plans must occur outside of the eight-week service-learning placement. Some exceptions may apply to “excursions” that are coordinated by, approved by, and accompanied by ISSLP site partners and organizations, and which are approved by the ISSLP.

For 2021, the typical $150 program deposit and materials fee will be waived.

 
2020-21 Calendar

Sep.  8            Application opens

Sep. – mid-Oct.      Weekly information sessions

Oct. 11               Application deadline

Oct. 20               Email notification of interview status

Oct. 24-25             Interviews

Nov. 23            Candidates notified of acceptance status

Dec. 2             Confirmation of participation and contracts due

Jan. 14             First ISSLP class session 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Jan. 19              Last day for course change

Jan. – Apr.        Orientation Sessions and mandatory Weekend Retreat (Tentative Feb. 5-6, 2021)

May – Aug.        Service-learning placements in progress

Aug. – Oct.        ISSLP re-entry class sessions and mandatory Day Retreat (Tentative Monday, Aug. 23, 2021), and public presentations

Sep. – Dec.        Promote ISSLP, recruit and select future participants

 

For More Information
Center for Social Concerns      
Main Phone Line  (574) 631-5293
Fax (574) 631-4171
 
ISSLP General Inquiries
 

ISSLP Program Staff

Associate Director, International Engagement 
Director, International Summer Service Learning Program                  
(574) 631-9404
 
Jimena Holguin                     
Assistant Director, International Summer Service Learning Program (Latin America)
(574) 631-7803
 
Assistant Director, International Summer Service Learning Program (Africa)                                     
(574) 631-0421
 
ISSLP Lead Coordinator
(574) 631-9403
 
ISSLP Student Assistants
Patrick McCabe              
 
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