William Scott Leroy Ed.D. Dissertation Defense: “Sustaining the International Service-Learning Experience: A Phenomenological Study of a Program Alumni Community”

2:30 pm - 5:30 pm

ABSTRACT: Institutions of higher education seek to promote global citizenship among students. International Service-Learning (ISL) programming is a common approach to further those ends. While ISL programming has been shown to promote global citizenship in the short term, few studies have persuasively demonstrated its impact is lasting. It has been hypothesized that remaining engaged with other ISL program alumni could deepen and extend the impact of such programming. The present research explores this hypothesis. Using a phenomenological approach, this study sought to understand how students at Worldview University (WU) were impacted by remaining connected with other members of a program alumni community upon return from an extended ISL experience. Data were gathered through a 26-question questionnaire, which was completed by 102 individuals (30 % response rate), and through 16 one-on-one interviews. Lin’s (1999) network theory of social capital provided a theoretical framework for analyzing data. Findings indicate the remaining connected with other alumni community members can provide individuals with support and a reminder of the experience as well as facilitating the development of knowledge, attitudes, and skills associated with global citizenship. Findings also showed these “resources” can be mobilized into various forms of social action. Data also revealed the mechanisms by which resources were exchanged among alumni community members as well as some of the factors influencing the flow of these resources. Findings have important implications for WU administrators as well as ISL program administrators throughout higher education. For WU administrators, the study reaffirms the value of devoting resources to nurturing a program alumni community. Recommendations are made to help students more easily form and strengthen network connections and to intervene to diminish toxic group behaviors. For ISL program administrators more broadly, by demonstrating a program alumni community can deepen and sustain programmatic impact, the study makes a compelling case for investing resources in the design and development of such programming. Additionally, the study offers a helpful pathway for program administrators to follow to successfully create and maintain thriving program alumni communities.

To access the Zoom link required to attend this defense, please contact academic.services@gse.rutgers.edu.