how-to use the guidebook

Paulo Freire, author of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”

Welcome to the Ethics of International Engagement and Service-Learning Project Web-Based Guide Book! Here are a few helpful hints for using our guide book.

While using this guidebook, one can enter through any of the following interconnected starting points, depending on their learning style and personal preference:

  1. Themes – Gleaned from student and faculty dialogue sessions, these are concepts that represent groupings of ethical questions that arise in university-related international engagement processes.
  2. Frameworks –Theoretical frameworks for students and pedagogical frameworks for faculty members provide lenses through which to academically interpret various issues in international engagement.
  3. Case studies – These are short narratives chosen to illustrate specific themes. Each case study is also either interpreted or connected to the theoretical and pedagogical frameworks.

Flexibility in the way this guidebook is used is important to allow for different points-of-entry.

Some may dive straight into the case studies and then visit the theories, themes, and questions afterward to help solidify their understanding.

Others may ground themselves in the theory, educational principles, and questions that arise in the frameworks sections first, before reading the case studies and themes arising from them.

Still others may wish to start by understanding the themes and then try to fit specific examples of those into frameworks using various theoretical or pedagogical interpretations.

At the end of every case study, framework and theme is a short list of further reading to help you better understand the issues raised. However, since some people like to have all the resources together, a separate resources page in a standard bibliographical style is also included.

Open Access
The intention of this guide book is to help both students and faculty. The two sections include some different information, but because everyone plays the role of both teacher and student at some point, students are encouraged to use the faculty materials and vice versa.

We have above all else prioritized a sense of community – this is a place where people can come to learn and share what they have learned, but we have also included a printable version of the kit to take with you off the beaten path.

Critical Consciousness
The concept of “critical consciousness” is rooted in the work of the late Brazilian educator Paulo Freire and has been developed to address the ethical issues surrounding service-learning work:

By critical self-reflection, we do not mean a singular focus on the self, but a stepping back to understand one’s own assumptions, biases, and values, and a shifting of one’s gaze from self to others and conditions of injustice in the world. This process, coupled with the resultant action, is at the core of the idea of critical consciousness (Kumagai and Lypson, 2009).

An ethic of service must include two essential components: (1) the selection and achievement of morally acceptable ends and (2) the morally acceptable means to those ends. The first component is directed at defining acceptable ends in terms of the benefits of international engagement for individuals, communities, and societies, and for the advancement of knowledge and service.

The second component is directed at ethically appropriate means of international engagement. To mitigate potential for harm, we focus first on building critical consciousness to ensure that students and faculty can build their own definition of ethical behaviour and navigate complex situations with greater ease and confidence. We do this also to ensure that ethical considerations have a permanent place in the culture of international engagement and ISL at UBC.

Learning is a “familiarization from within”. Therefore, at EIESL, we adopt the notion of critical consciousness with the awareness that the root of “education” is the Latin “educere”, meaning “to draw forth,” and not to cram into.

Critical consciousness is not so much a goal as an ongoing process of trying to diminish the gaps in one’s continuity of awareness, of which things like cultural competence are only a part. Critical consciousness is an identity.

If you have any questions about this guidebook or the EIESL Project, contact us at

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