Immersions Overview

Global social justice education in schools develops the necessary knowledge, positive social values and spiritual stimulation to empower students to act as agents for social change.

Global social justice education can take the form of integration into existing school curriculum areas, for example;

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  • A global food justice Geography unit
  • A FairTrade component in an Economics Unit
  • A whole school unit developed around Catholic Social Teaching principles
  • The use of case studies such as the Project Compassion stories texts or films in English or Religious Education.
  • These curriculum components may also include taking action such as: whole school fundraising initiatives for an agency such as Caritas Australia; new school initiatives such as environmental activities; or outreach in the local community. 

    The Australian Curriculum and contemporary pedagogical discussions have placed increasing importance on the global dimensions in the curriculum. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) recognises the fundamental role that education plays in building a society that is ‘cohesive and culturally diverse’ (MCEETYA, p. 4).

    School Partnerships

    Many schools have developed rich and creative ways to build cross cultural understanding, integrate sustainability and instil a sense of global citizenship. In recent years, partnerships with schools in developing countries or economically poorer countries have grown significantly.

    School partnerships can take the form of:

  • Curriculum partnerships: For example, a school in Australia links up with a school in an economically poorer country to collaboratively devise a unit of work that both schools complete.
  • Twinning- Corresponding with and or visiting a school in a partner country.
  • Both these forms may include an aspect of direct fundraising for the partner school or community.

    Immersions

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    Immersion travel experiences have also emerged as an increasingly popular service learning activity within schools, as gap year alternatives as well as in mainstream travel in the form of 'voluntourism'.

    This usually involves groups or individuals travelling to visit a community in an economically poorer country. These trips often involve a service activity in the host community such as delivering gifts in kind, painting buildings, teaching or building.

    Both school partnerships and travel immersions have the potential to be life changing, educative experiences that equip students to respond to complex situations in a manner that upholds the dignity of our brothers and sisters around the world. A school partnership and travel immersion experience can awaken students to their global citizenship, and help instigate the life long process of understanding the complex issues of poverty and development.

    Yet a positive, mutually beneficial outcome is not guaranteed by an immersion experience or partnership. Nor is it achieved without its challenges.

    Through this guide, we invite you to join us in a reflective process to recognize these challenges and to harness and enhance the potential for positive outcomes and above all ensure that our responses to global poverty limits our negative impact.

    Next: Defining Motivations