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The Humanities Conference 2003

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International Service Learning: Immersing Humanities Students in Global Cultures

Doreen S. Geddes.

One way the humanities can engage in the global community is by incorporating International Service Learning projects into the curricula. By providing college humanities students with opportunities to work with stendents in technical areas to serve and live with residents of other countries, they can share aspects of their respective cultures. Thus, students and local residents gain a greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s culture.Additionally, students from the humanities and technical majors learn to work with each other.
This paper describes two such projects in Africa (Ghana and the South African bush) where university humanities students along with engineering and nursing majors helped villagers install a clean water system and work on other community, medical and educational projects. In addition, students and villagers exchanged aspects of their cultures with each other.
Prior to their trip, the students (from the disciplines of communication, history, philosophy, nursing, and engineering)enrolled in an intensive course to learn about the history and culture of the country they were to visit. They also planned service projects and culture-sharing activities that would help the villagers and students learn about each other. Additionally, they learned communication skills to help them work with other students in their group and the African villagers.
The author describes the process of developing an international Service Learning experience for humanities students including pre-trip activities such as finding funding, working with students from various disciplines, developing partners in the host country, sensitizing students to the culture, and making trip arrangements. Determining topics to include and creating educational activities and goals prior to, during, and after the trip are discussed.


Doreen S. Geddes  (United States)
Associate Professor in Communication Studies
Department of Communication Studies
Clemson University

Dr Geddes teaches courses in interpersonal, gender, nonverbal, small group, and organizational communication in the Department of Communication at Clemson University where she has been for the past fifteen years. For five of those years, she was Chair of the Department and was instrumental in developing the communication major at Clemson University.
She received her Ph. D. in Speech Communication at The Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Geddes includes Service Learning projects in all of her classes and has helped coordinate student Service Learning projects in Africa.
Her research interests and publications focus on gender communication styles, regional and cultural differences in communication behavior, and global communication problems in families of alcoholics

  • International
  • Humanities
  • Service Learning
  • Humanities Students
  • Sharing Global Cultures
  • Student International Projects
  • Africa Service Projects
  • Humanities Faculty
  • Curriculum for International Projects

(30 min Conference Paper, English)