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Catherine Prendergast

This article reports on the multi-year collaboration between the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) at the University of Illinois and the University's Rhetoric Program, a required first-year writing course. I argue that this collaboration was successful in large part because the goals of writing programmes in American higher education settings – teaching the process of research, inviting students to see themselves as producers of knowledge and fostering collaboration between peers – are highly consonant with principles of EUI. Indeed, my own history with EUI reflects the parallel commitment of Writing Studies and the methods and goals of EUI. I suggest that EUI can serve as a powerful model for universities if they seek to place undergraduate student research writing at the core of their mission.

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Claire Cororaton and Richard Handler

This article documents and analyses the uneasy, if not contradictory, relationship between service learning and liberal arts thinking in an undergraduate programme in Global Development Studies (GDS) at a North American University. As an undergraduate, Cororaton participated in a service-learning project to build a greenhouse in Mongolia; at the same time, the curriculum of her major (GDS, a programme directed by Handler) was developing a critique of such service projects, focusing on their lack of political self-consciousness. The authors contextualise the story within the university's ongoing attempts to enhance its global profile.

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Chaise Ladousa

This article explores representations emergent in discourse about service learning in an effort to understand what gives the notion special value. A job presentation of a candidate for dean of faculty, articles published in a college newspaper, descriptions posted on a college website and commentary offered in an interview with a student demonstrate that representations of service learning are salient in multiple contexts and presuppose the potential to transform the lives of everyone involved. This article identifies one of the discursive constructs making transformation possible – even inevitable – in reflections on service learning, and uses the construct to explore how it shapes a single instance of service learning's failure.

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Bonnie Urciuoli

Service learning and other engaged scholarship programmes ideally operate in an academic framework to enhance student understanding of citizenship and community engagement. In reality, given the constraints on institutional budgets, such programmes are likely to be underfunded and academically understaffed. Structured as choices on an institutional menu, programmes are routinely touted as transformative though what they transform may be indeterminate. The ways in which such programmes are presented encourage students to interpret transformation as personal experience, valued to the extent that students can do good in the world by acting as agents of progress, solving problems for people imagined to need their expertise, ideally in exotic settings as unlike students' routine lives as possible, while students develop skills and connections useful in their post-college careers. This construction of engaged scholarship readily lends itself to institutional promotional language but can undermine students' effective action in actual projects.

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Jason Hickel

Participation in development projects in the Global South has become one of the most sought-after activities among American and British high school graduates and college students. In the United States this often takes the form of Alternative Spring Break trips, while in Britain students typically pursue development work during their 'gap years'. Development projects offer students a way to craft themselves in an alternative mould, to have a 'real experience' that marks them off from the cultural mainstream as 'authentic' individuals. The student development craze represents an impulse to resist consumerist individualism, but this impulse has been appropriated and neutralised by a new logic of consumption, transforming a profoundly political urge for change into a form of 'resistance' compatible with neoliberal capitalism. In the end, students' pursuit of self-realisation through development has a profoundly depoliticising effect, shifting their attention away from substantive problems of extraction and exploitation to the state of the inner self.

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Kearsley A. Stewart

Interest in short-term international placements in global health training for U.S.-based medical students is growing; the trend is mirrored for global health undergraduate students. Best practices in field-based global health training can increase success for medical students, but we lack a critical framework for the undergraduate global health field experience. In what ways does an undergraduate field experience in global health resemble a medical student's first international health elective? Is it more similar to a study-abroad programme or a service-learning experience with a focus on personal development, civic responsibility and community engagement? This article suggests that an undergraduate global health field experience contains features of both the international medical elective and a traditional service-learning programme. I analyse a case study of a short-term U.S.-based undergraduate global health project and explore the intersections of research, professional training and service learning.

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Gudrun Willett

In a three-year ethnographic study of a selective U.S. liberal arts college, it was found that educational development efforts contributed not only to changes in teaching but also to cross-college collaboration and the development of a sense of community. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the college created a learning centre and new educational development activities that spoke to faculty members' needs and college interests. Following these changes, increased collegiality could be seen in collaborations among college employees, and in the educational development activities themselves, resulting in increased interest in educational development. These institutional changes were only made possible because of the college's relatively democratic governance structure, relatively high levels of faculty members' power on campus, and an environment in which ideas and practices could be challenged and re-conceptualised (at least by some employees). Ultimately, this paper argues for more attention to the interrelationships between campus collegiality, teaching and learning, and power in institutions of higher education.

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Mariya Ivancheva

This article discusses paradoxes in the emergent global field of higher education as reflected in an alternative model of the university – the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) and the related higher education policy, Misión Sucre. With its credo in the applied social sciences, its commitment to popular pedagogy and its dependence on extensive fieldwork with communities, UBV offers an alternative model of science and research at the service of society. Drawing on my ongoing research on this university (since 2008), I present the difficulties which the homogenising standards of a global field of higher education pose to a rapidly developing mass public university in a semiperipheral country. I focus on the difficulty of developing evaluation procedures for UBV as this exposes contradictions which are both unique to this new university model and common for a world system of higher education.

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Penny Welch and Susan Wright

Welcome to the sixth volume of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences. Our thanks go to the authors of the essay, articles and commentaries, the anonymous referees who read the essay and the articles, our publisher Berghahn and the Editorial Board.

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Melody Viczko

Internationalisation of higher education has been overwhelmingly embraced by Canadian universities (Beck 2009). Yet, the decentralised nature of higher education institutions, coupled with the absence of a national governing body with responsibility for higher education, creates an interesting terrain for internationalisation. In this paper, I examine the ideas related to internationalisation pursued by one Canadian organisation, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Responding to concerns from Canadian institutions and government ministries about their potential exclusion from global markets, the AUCC took a national lead to better acquaint Canadian institutions with the Bologna reforms, declaring an urgent need to respond to the reforms taking place in Europe (AUCC 2008a). I analyse the policy knowledge, spaces and actors involved with internationalisation through the AUCC's interaction with the Bologna Process, to argue that a deeper entangling of universities in the ideational market-based competition embedded in neoliberal reforms has created tensions in how autonomy can be conceived in Canadian higher education.