Academic journal article Theory in Action

The Ghana-Canada Global Community Service Learning Project: Teaching and Learning through Sharing and Praxis

Academic journal article Theory in Action

The Ghana-Canada Global Community Service Learning Project: Teaching and Learning through Sharing and Praxis

Article excerpt

"Theory without practice is blind; practice without theory is empty."

Kwame Nkrumah

WHAT IS THE GHANA-CANADA GLOBAL COMMUNITY SERVICE LEARNING PROJECT?

The Ghana-Canada Global Community Service Learning Project (hereinafter referred to as the Ghana-Canada Project or GCP) is a manylayered, international, cross-disciplinary, collaborative, mixed mode teaching and learning, and praxis-oriented undertaking. It uses simple technology, internship and field research to provide opportunity for students and scholars in Ghana and Canada to learn the skills of global citizenship while supporting, inspiring, and empowering deprived students in rural Ghana in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.

The GCP aims to deepen students' formal preparation for local and global citizenship and gain practical experience through field placements, doing volunteer work with an international organization or other community organizations in another country. Students engage in hands-on, reciprocal learning about social justice and civic engagement issues through the application of theoretical/sociological knowledge, concepts, and methods to the practical, everyday lives of disadvantaged people and groups. They identify environmental-related problems facing deprived rural communities in a Global South country and work to solve or alleviate them.

The project is the creation if a Global Community Service Learning Project, which gives Ghanaian and Canadian students and their instructors an opportunity to acquire, co-create, research, and apply theoretical knowledge to social justice, civic responsibility, and sustainability issues in local and global settings. The GCP is built around four planks: (1) a webconferencing course on social justice in local and global contexts;(2) The creation and donation of environmentallyfriendly solar-powered lanterns to students in rural Ghana residing outside the national electricity grid to complete their take-home assignments and study at night; (3) An international field school involving both Canadian and Ghanaian students; (4) a mixed method study of survey, interviews and focus group discussion of student participants in the GCP, and finally. Starting from the summer of 2013 students will begin a longitudinal field /Ethnographic research to study the impact on, and sustainability of, the solar lantern project on rural students and their communities.

Students engage in classroom-based analysis and critical reflection about the interrelationships among organizations, cultures and Global society. Prior to the field school, students take a partially online course in "Social Justice in Local and Global Contexts" with a focus on global citizenship, civic engagement, and literacy in sustainable development. Conceived on the basis of two ideas-"Classroom without Walls" and "Global Village", the course was designed to use a unique interactive multimedia approach to link students and faculty in two international locations-Ghana and Canada. The course, through the integrative information and educational technologies, aimed to break the boundaries of time, space and distance thereby facilitating the sharing of knowledge between the students at both sites. The project involves students and professors from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the Ghana Institute of Journalism, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Also involved are two secondary schools-Eguafo Secondary School and Tiawiah Secondary School in the Central and Eastern regions of Ghana, respectively.

BACKGROUND

In the Spring of 2008 I initiated the project as a partiially online, video-conference and web-based course and linked students taking my Sociology of Global Inequalities course at Kwantlen Polytechnic University with their peers in the Sociology Department at the University of Ghana taking a Globalization and Society course with my collaborator, Dr. …

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