Service-Learning, Sustainability, and the Need for Cosmopolitan Experiences in Undergraduate Education: A View from Anthropology

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By David Syring


A mural of a sad-looking boy who has a carousel coming out of the top of his head - but the carousel is made op of strange creatures and symbols. To become citizens of the world, students must understand with their heads, hands, and hearts the complex realities that people live within in a globalizing but nonetheless richly diverse world. A short-term study-abroad program, while brief in duration, may profoundly affect student learning and, indeed, transform life paths by providing students real experiences of cosmopolitan consciousness. The program described below and represented by the accompanying videos focuses on immersive, service-based learning in Costa Rica for the purpose of exploring sustainability in its multiple registers—social, environmental, and economic. Student reflection and commentary from our Costa Rican host institution confirm that programs such as this contribute critical insight toward the formation of globally competent citizens.