Transformative Education through International Service-Learning : Realising an ethical ecology of learning book cover
1st Edition

Transformative Education through International Service-Learning
Realising an ethical ecology of learning

ISBN 9780815360551
Published December 21, 2017 by Routledge
224 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

Transformative learning is a compelling approach to learning that is becoming increasingly popular in a diverse range of educational settings and encounters. This book reconceptualises transformative learning through an investigation of the learning process and outcomes of International Service-Learning (ISL), a pedagogical approach that blends student learning with community engagement overseas and the development of a more just society. Drawing upon key philosophers and theorists, Bamber offers an integrated, multi-dimensional approach, linking transformative learning to the development of the authentic self, and analysing the aesthetic, moral and relational dimensions of ISL in an increasingly globalized world. Chapters explore rich empirical data to provide a timely framework and ethical ecology of transformative learning, detailing the challenges facing the approach, and how it can be embedded at the levels of practice, institutional ethos and partnership.

Transformative Learning through International Service-Learning will appeal to academics, researchers, teachers, instructors and leaders in the fields of service-learning, international education, character education and in adult learning and education. It will also be of interest to practitioners working in international education, development education, volunteering, service-learning and community engagement.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Transformative Learning  Towards an Integrative Model of Transformative Learning.  The Knowing, Being and Doing of Transformation.  The Centrality of Authenticity to Transformative Learning  Part 2: International Service-Learning  Key Concepts and Practices in International Service-Learning.  The Student Experience of International Service-Learning  Part 3: Transformative Learning as the Process of Becoming Authentic Authenticity as Selfhood: Becoming Oneself [Integrity].  Authenticity as Reciprocity: Becoming Persons-in-Relation [Recognition].  Authenticity as Worldliness: Becoming Other-Wise [Cosmopolitanism]  Part 4: An Ethical Ecology of Transformative Learning  Towards an Ethical Ecology of Transformative Learning.

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Philip M. Bamber is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Liverpool Hope University, where he is Head of the Department of Education Studies. He was awarded the International Association of University Presidents' 2013 International Education Faculty Achievement Award for leadership in research and teaching in global citizenship. He is co-editor (with L. Bourke and J. Clarkson) of In Safe Hands: Facilitating service learning in schools in the developing world (Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham, 2008) and is currently Associate Director of TEESNet, the UK Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability Network. His papers on global citizenship and values in education can be found in Education, Citizenship and Social Justice; Journal of Beliefs and Values; Journal of Curriculum Studies and Journal of Transformative Education.


In this finely conceived and elegantly structured book Philip Bamber brings an international perspective to bear on the notion of learning as a transformative process that combines reciprocity and dialogue with a willingness to recognise our cultural differences. It is, argues Bamber, only through this process of learning together across local and global divides that we achieve ethical agency in respect of our own life trajectories and moral agency in relation to our treatment of one another. This is an important and timely work that has implications for how we conceive of educational practice in a global and increasingly divided world.

Professor Jon Nixon

Honorary Professor of International Education and Lifelong Learning and Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Lifelong Learning Research and Development, Hong Kong Institute of Education.

The sterile, utilitarian policies and practices that characterise contemporary education neglect the power of learning to change lives fundamentally. In this important book, Philip Bamber demonstrates how International Service-Learning offers an alternative approach--one that can truly transform individuals and mitigate the cultural misunderstandings, social divisions, environmental degradation and other by-products of the complex globalised village we inhabit.

Professor Bob Adamson

UNESCO Chair Professor in TVET and Lifelong Learning

The discourse on international service learning is taken to a new conceptual level through this important publication. Through an analysis of theories of transformative learning and examples of practice in higher education, and use of the concept authentic, it provides an important contribution to the growing body of literature in and around global citizenship education.

Dr.Douglas Bourn

Director-Development Education Research Centre, University College London, Institute of Education

Editor, International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning

This important book contains insightful messages regarding the ethics of International Education and adult education more broadly. It draws upon an impressive range of theory to develop our understanding of transformative learning as it links to the notion of authenticity. The findings of this research, which include a novel definition of International Service-Learning, are timely and pertinent for researchers and practitioners in North America and beyond.  

Professor Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

Professor, Philosophy of Education, University of Tennessee, United States of America

Editor, Studies in Philosophy and Education Journal

This book is a major contribution to the conversation about Transformative Learning in a multi-cultural, global context.  The focus on being as well as knowing, on self as well as self-in-relationship, is powerful.  The critique of International Service-Learning in terms of the apparently unwitting reinforcement of colonization and ignoring systemic causes of is discerning and useful.  Weaving the ethics of virtue into the discussion of transformation is profound. I was moved and inspired by this work.

Professor John Dirkx

Professor, Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education, Michigan State University, United States of America

Editor, Journal of Transformative Education

This is a timely and compelling book that offers faculty, researchers and practitioners a richly layered and deeply theoretical framework for understanding the complex process of transformative learning.  The expanded conceptualization of transformative learning as a multidimensional and relational journey of becoming an authentic self, derived from a longitudinal study of students’ international service-learning experience, is unique and powerful."   

Dr Richard Kiely

Director, Engaged Learning and Research

Cornell University, United States of America

This publication brims with compelling insights into the pitfalls and possibilities of international service activity and the essential conditions for this to be a transformative learning experience. Philip Bamber has provided a richly detailed map of the ethical and educational challenges of international service activity and a reliable compass to help practitioners and advocates to navigate these.

Richard Baker

Head of Education and Youth

Oxfam GB

Dr Bamber’s new book uses theoretical as well as empirical evidence about  transformative learning  through  international volunteering. It reminds us what may go wrong and how volunteers may do more harm than good if they are not aware of the social complexity of the community in which they are working. This book provides conceptual tools to assist students, practitioners, researchers and non-government organisations who seek to ‘get out’ of their current ways of thinking and act as global citizens.  It highlights the importance of ‘getting in’ to where they are going through reconnecting, immersion and gaining a felt sense of the worlds of others.  The author identifies the important conditions of ‘connectivity with’, ‘openness with’ and ‘anticipating reciprocity’ as capabilities required by educational researchers seeking to challenge social injustice.

Purna Kumar Shrestha

Lead Advisor, Education

Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) International

VMM: International Volunteering and Development (VMM) has a long and rich history of working in partnership with those communities that are socially, economically and politically marginalised in order to help create a more just and equal global society. At a time of deep reflection and change for VMM, Philip Bamber’s unambiguous linking of learning and community development to the creation the ‘authentic self’ has reaffirmed our own mission and so we can state without reservation, that this book is an invaluable tool and reference for any organisation like VMM with a vision for "a world where we live in the shelter of one another" and a mission "to share who we are not just what we have".

John Denny

Chief Executive Officer

Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) International

This book provides a timely and much-needed exploration of the many potentially problematic aspects of International Service Learning. Philip Bamber looks beneath the stated aims of such programmes to address issues of social injustice and poverty to question the ethical and educational problems underlying them. What kind of learning really emerges? What is the nature of the power relationships between different players in an International Service-Learning programme? In what ways might such programmes have the potential to propagate a form of new colonialism? He develops an ‘ethical ecology’ through which these challenges can be approached and a more authentic transformative learning promoted. We look forward to using the book as a stimulus for conversation in the on-going re-envisioning and revising of our own programmes in Ireland.

Rosalind Duke

Realt Africa Teaching and Learning Programme, Dublin, Ireland

This first class book provides insight into the power of international service experiences to have an impact lasting well beyond their duration. With international service set to increase in the UK and beyond, it’s important we understand more about its effects. This book will be of interest to anyone involved in applying education to help create a more just and sustainable world.

Tom Franklin

Chief Executive Officer

Think Global

This book is being published at an important time for international service learning: a time when opportunities to travel and experience other places, for some students, are unparalleled, yet the implications for them and for host communities are dangerously under-theorised. I wholeheartedly recommend this publication.

Dr David A. G. Berg

University of Otago, New Zealand

This book is a fascinating intervention in the debate around the practical role of educators in the global development process. It maps out the potential for development education within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and highlights the importance of interdependence in the linkages that can be nurtured through educational contact. Crucially, it concludes with a series of very helpful suggestions on the development of what is termed an ‘ethical ecology of transformative learning’ and with this it gives education for social justice an essential platform.

Dr Gerard McCann

Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland