Learning and Volunteering Abroad for Development: Unpacking Host Organization and Volunteer Rationales, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Learning and Volunteering Abroad for Development

Unpacking Host Organization and Volunteer Rationales, 1st Edition

By Rebecca Tiessen


162 pages

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Learning/volunteer abroad programmes provide opportunities for cross-cultural understanding, partnership-building, and cooperative development, but there are also significant structural challenges and inequality of opportunity issues that result from these partnerships between host organizations in the Global South and learning/volunteer abroad for development (LVA4D) participants from the Global North. Learning and Volunteering Abroad for Development aims to unpack the complex benefits and disadvantages of learning/volunteer abroad programmes, using insights from the volunteers who travel abroad and the communities who host them.

Based on empirical research within both volunteer and host communities, this book provides students and scholars with an alternative framework for a more careful and nuanced analysis of international volunteering programmes, highlighting ways to improve critical reflection, development outcomes, and intercultural competence.

Supported by a website with additional learning resources, this bookis an integral resource for senior undergraduate and graduate students interested in going abroad, as well as for scholars or development professionals who are leading or researching such programmes.


"Guided by a critical and postcolonial lens, Rebecca Tiessen examines…important questions in her book, focusing on the nonprofit sector providing Noth-South LVA4D opportunites. Her book fills a need for documenting motivations and rationales for participating in international development initiatives via 'careful empirical research'".Yea-Wen Chen in ISTR (2019) 30: 282-283

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Learning\Volunteer Abroad for Development (LVA4D) Starts with Unpacking

Chapter 2: An Overview of the Diverse Volunteer Abroad Options, Trends and Motivations

Chapter 3: LVA4D and Cross-cultural Engagement

Chapter 4: Skills Development and Testing a Career Choice: Capital Accumulation and Perceived Benefits

Chapter 5: It’s All About the Timing: A ‘Place’ for Adventure and Travel

Chapter 6: Having an ‘Impact’ and Other Helping Narratives

Chapter 7: Conclusion: Understanding Rationales and the Possibilities for Effective Practices in Volunteer Abroad Programs

About the Author

Rebecca Tiessen is Associate Professor, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada.

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries