Making the Local-Global
What does this mean?
And why should you
incorporate this concept into
your classes you teach?
The Problem Defined
• You are a far-sighted teacher or school
administrator. You want to introduce
service learning into your traditional
• Problem: Your colleagues don’t fully get it.
What do you do?
• Here are some tips on what to do, along
with selections of suggested material that
you could actually use as a template for
creating a curriculum-integrated service
learning program in your school 3
What is Service Learning, and
What are its Goals?
•First, what Service Learning is not:
•It is not just an extracurricular afterthought,
or a trendy “add-on” during one’s college or
high school years—to be conveniently
forgotten once your students enter the “real”
•It is not a mere resume builder designed to
make them look good as they try to get to
the next level in life
Service Learning is …
• An activity that will change both your students as well as
those they will be serving
• An involvement that will help prepare them to become well-
rounded decision-makers capable of working across cultural
• An engagement that will enable them to develop a sense of
global citizenship which will serve them as a lifelong
• A tool that will equip them to lead not just from the top-
down but from the bottom up, in whatever area of public
life they enter
• An experience that will help them see the world in
characteristically global ways, yet think and act locally
• An involvement that should alter them enough that it
becomes a permanent part of their knowledge base—
indeed, of their very selves—the rest of their lives
Tips: What To Do
• One: Develop and position your material so
it helps your students to make the local-
global connection. Why, and what’s that?
• You need to put service learning in a larger
picture that connects what is going on in
their local neighborhood with what is
occurring globally. In give local action a
• Second, it helps them to see that what they
choose to do or don’t do has far-reaching
• Similarly, choices made on the other side of
the world affect us here 6
• The next set of slides discuss how to
organize Community Service Learning
around a theme in your school curriculum
• For example: studying soil in AP Biology, or
water in Geography, or poverty in Social
What are the Takeaways?
• First, service learning offers students priceless
lessons that no textbook could ever teach them.
Example: that the world’s resource management
problems, while large, are not insurmountable
• Second, your students will learn, in practical vivid
ways, that local-global resource problems like soil
degradation, are avoidable, but tackling them
requires working simultaneously on several
fronts, because these fronts are interlinked and
• This is what is going to help them 15 years from
now, when they are junior policymakers or
• Globalize their minds now, and you set them for
Topic: The physical environment
(Alternative subjects: Social Studies and
While using your existing science
syllabus, you can extend your lessons
beyond the classroom by linking the subject
to broader issues occurring either in the
United States or the rest of the world 9
Example: After studying soil, lead a discussion
on the impact of soil on our day-to-day lives.
We are facing a major dilemma as the world
continues to lose its soil at an alarming rate.
The food they ate in the cafeteria most likely
partly came from soil that is being threatened
with depletion, erosion and compaction—often
not far from where the students live.
The idea is get students to start looking at soil
as something other than DIRT. It is a life
Encourage your students to research hardy
crops that be grown in relatively poor
soil, without the use of chemicals or fertilizers.
They could identify farming methods that improve
soil condition. For example, crop rotation.
Soil Fertility: How to increase soil fertility be
increased without artificial fertilizers
Soil management: Study soil erosion --- how to
reduce soil erosion
Some countries, like Haiti, have just about
completely lost their soil.
Result: They can hardly feed themselves today.
Question: What policy interventions should the
rest of the rich world adopt to try to help them
restore their soil? 11
Soil: Making the Local-Global
Question: Why is soil erosion both a local and a
Fact: The whole world depends on soil. And
agricultural trade links us even further.
Rich and poor countries alike are engaging in
practices that are accelerating soil degradation
In the US, for example, the use of heavy farm
machinery compacts the soil, essentially crushing
its micro-structure and make it less and less
In other countries, lack of food leads to
overgrazing. Lack of crop rotation and global
warming add to soil degradation 12
In just the past four decades, soil erosion
has destroyed almost one-third of all the
fertile land in the world.
When soil is destroyed, forests disappear.
From the Amazon to Indonesia to East
Africa, rain forests and farmland are
disappearing at an alarming rate
What responses can your students formulate
to these soil-related issues?
Lead them in a role-play simulating a debate
in the House of Congress about US farming
practices, or a session in the United Nations
on the future of the global environment 13
A Vicious Cycle of Interconnected
Carbon emissions in the West and in China create
global warming through greenhouse effects ...
which leads to climate change …
which triggers severe droughts, floods, and
which in turn cause soil erosion …
which leads to over-cultivation of existing
which hastens soil degradation by exhausting the
nutrient-rich soil …
which results in declining harvests and food
Further Sobering Facts
Ecologists say 10 percent of a country’s terrain
should be covered by forest. But in most
countries, the forest cover is now less than two
Many of us may not be feeling it now, but the world
is losing its ability to feed itself—through
degradation, deforestation, desertification, and
drought driven by climate change.
“With eight billion people, we're going to have to start
getting interested in soil. We’re simply not going to be
able to keep treating it like dirt.”
Geologist and author David R. Montgomery, in
Charles C. Mann, “Our Good Earth,” National
Geographic, September 2008
Haiti: Many countries have lost their soil and thus the means
to feed themselves.
Source: National Geographic Magazine September 2008
Service Learning: Food Security
We can all relate to food. So food security
presents powerful lessons that make it an
ideal Service Learning local-global theme
illustrating the centrality of soil and its role
Take your students on a trip to visit and
work a large agribusiness farm to
understand the impact of big
machinery, and how it is compacting and
degrading the soil beneath our feet.
Strategic Learning Goals
The aim is to connect textbook learning to
the real world
Evidence shows that the most effective
learning occurs when students draw on all
their faculties to interact concretely with
their surroundings— rural or urban, local or
abroad—while engaging farmer, immigrant
workers, and other local stakeholders in
The Educational Benefits
A farm visit will give your students
opportunities to use their analytical and
conversational skills in real-life situations
that extend beyond the walls of their
classroom, and into the community
Second, it will foster a sense of caring for
others and for the globe as they engage in
trench digging, bed preparation, planting of
seedlings, and cultivation of nurseries
A group of high school students on a trip to work on an organic farm in
Source: Voluntourists, Flickr
“We both did the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Montana the year after we
graduated from St. Joe's. Kristen worked part-time at the Missoula Food
Bank and part-time with the children's program at the YWCA shelter. Mary
worked as a case manager at the YWCA shelter.”
Source: Voluntourists, Flickr
The Policy Angle: How and Why
Do Policies Go Wrong?
Face it. Most urban students are not going to
grow up to be farmers or even soil scientists.
Their point of contact with soil issues is likely
to occur from decision-making positions as
workers, company managers, and voters
Result: It’s important to get them to think
from the policy angle
They need to understand why policies go
wrong, and why wrong policies are made in
the first place. So… 24
Wrong-headed Policies: How
Can the World Fix Them?
What policies can be put in place to ban or
reduce the use of pesticides or fertilizers that
making soil toxic?
Since the Kyoto Environmental Agreement
failed, what policies can be into place to curb the
negative effects of climate change which are
damaging the soil and leading to low crop yields
and soil erosion?
Many commercial farmers in developed countries
use heavy machinery because they say they
can’t afford the costs of hiring a lot of workers
to do what one big combine harvester can do.
So they’d rather damage the soil. Who is right?25
The Policy Angle, continued
• Question: Should governments offer
incentives that bring in more seasonal
migrants to work on farms, thus encouraging
big-business farmers to use more labor and
• Who are the world’s biggest polluters of
air, soil and water?
• If you were in the Senate or at the UN, what
policies would you try to introduce to
discourage or penalize major polluters?
• Which do you think works better:
Penalties, or education?
OUTCOMES: What Can You Expect
from a Well-Designed, Curriculum-
Linked Service Learning Program?
You should be able to teach your students to…
• Think and act both globally and locally
• Develop a working vocabulary around global
issues, and place service learning in an expanded
conceptual framework that makes sense of both local
and world events
• Make the global-local connection and grasp how global
developments affect us here, and vice versa
• See themselves as transformative agents beginning to
nurture a commitment to global advocacy
• Start to prepare themselves to become well-
rounded, far-sighted decision makers capable of
working across cultural lines
OUTCOMES: What Can You Expect from a Well-
Designed Service Learning Program? Continued
You should be able to teach your students to…
• Select local community service projects and
understand how they link to global issues
• Gain an understanding of global issues that goes
beyond conventional isolated initiatives
• Understand specific world regions, the
economic, justice and environment challenges
they face, and the forces that affect their life
choices and outcomes
• Build an information and support network with
other student allies at other schools, and with
NGOs that are committed to local-global issues
through service learning 28