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International Exchange: College Students Learn about the Sustainable Development Goals through Service Learning in Portland, Oregon


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Case Study presentation: International Exchange: College Students Learn about the Sustainable Development Goals through Service Learning in Portland, Oregon
Ms. Serena Dressel, RCE Greater Portland
11th Global RCE Conference
7-9 December, 2018
Cebu, the Philippines

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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International Exchange: College Students Learn about the Sustainable Development Goals through Service Learning in Portland, Oregon

  1. 1. International Exchange: College Students Learn About Sustainable Development Goals Through Service Learning in Portland, Oregon Serena Dressel RCE Greater Portland Global RCE Conference 2018 December 7, 2018
  2. 2. RCE Greater Portland: “It takes a region”: We are a network across four counties in Oregon and Washington. Motto: Educate ~ Empower ~ Engage Regional Context : The greater Portland region is known as being politically progressive and a sustainability leader.
  3. 3. RCE Greater Portland - Goal 4.7 • We support: • formal and non-formal education and training opportunities • public awareness campaigns GOAL 4.7 Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all. 4.7 - By 2030, ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
  4. 4. REGIONAL PARTNER MODEL: Our collaborative hub: ● connects to, ● supports, ● & creates sustainability education initiatives in the region. The Intensive English Language Program (IELP) is funded and provided by Portland State University (PSU). RCE Greater Portland educators provide resources, curriculum, and presentations on the SDGs to students and instructors in the IELP. My role in IELP: ● student sustainability intern for IELP ● as a regional SDG expert ● Board Member of RCE Greater Portland
  5. 5. Intensive English Language Program: Communication and Culture Program Started in 2016, with 3 main goals: ● Offer international learning experiences that enable participants to connect to the community in a meaningful way through service learning / volunteering ● Draw on Portland and Portland State’s expertise in sustainability as a foundation for the program’s design ● Develop participants’ intercultural communication competence and confidence Since 2016, the program has ● Delivered 11 sessions ● Hosted 210 students from 16 countries ● Worked with over 12 campus and community partners ● Introduced all students to the UN SDGs and focused on Goals 1, 2, 7, 10 & 12
  6. 6. Program Structure ● Sessions are 3 to 4 weeks ● 20+ hours per week ● In class ○ Communicative focus ○ Introduction to sustainability & service learning concepts ○ Preparation for and reflection on service learning experiences ● Out of class ○ Service learning with community partners ○ Cultural exploration with PSU student interns Portland is known as a “sustainable city”: lesser known among Portlanders and those visiting are the SDGs Core principles: ● Sustainability concepts need to be linked to students’ experiences ● Service learning is an opportunity to actively contribute towards SDGs ● Program participants explore RCEs & SDGs that their countries/communities are working on (final presentation) ● Language learning focuses on building capacity to participate in the program’s activities
  7. 7. Service learning activities include... Hands on work towards Zero Hunger!
  8. 8. Program Outcomes 90% of program participants said the class made them think about being more sustainable. What students liked best about the program: ● individual student volunteering activity ● “What I liked the most was learning how to reuse everything that comes from nature and how I can do it at home.” ● “The most important thing and what I really loved to learn was know about how the system here in Portland it works like recycle, clean energy, helping people.” ● “The thing that I most liked was the way that people here in Portland like and help the sustainability growing here. " Program Growth - increasing interest among partner universities ● 2016 (1st year) - 48 participants ● 2017 - 71 participants ● 2018 - 91 participants
  9. 9. Challenges Increasing partnerships with international universities that have SDG education and/or service learning as a part of their strategic mission Continuing community partnership development that intentionally links activities to specific SDGs in meaningful ways Rebranding program to better reflect emphasis on sustainability and SDGs Program evolution Incorporating service learning into the 3 to 4 week time frame Sustainability is a large concept to explain across language levels and cultural differences Communicating sustainability in promotional materials
  10. 10. For further questions… Questions about RCE Greater Portland: Visit Or contact: Serena Dressel, GPSEN Board Member, Secretary and International Working Group Chair: Dr. Neeraja Havaligi, RCE Greater Portland/ GPSEN Executive Director: Questions about the Intensive English Learning Program at Portland State University: culture-programs Samudra Kugel, Associate Director of Outreach and Admission:
  11. 11. Links to additional program information…. Communication and Culture Program Website ● Video about Program ● Photo Album of Program