Georgetown students will soon have the opportunity to continue the university’s tradition of community service while studying abroad.

A community-based learning abroad initiative will allow students studying abroad in several locations to participate in service projects in their host communities while earning course credit from Georgetown for their participation.

The initiative is the result of a cooperative effort by the Office of International Programs, the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

The initiative corresponds with the introduction of a three-credit sociology course, “Social Justice Practicum,” in which students will compare societal conditions and structural inequalities in the Washington, D.C. area with those they encounter in the community they serve while abroad, within the framework of their readings and research on sociological theories.

“Students participating in this program will have the opportunity to engage in powerful, transformative work at the community level and will deepen their understanding of social and cultural challenges against social justice,” Sam Marullo, chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department, said in a press release.

Seven Georgetown students will be participating in a service project in Senegal this spring.

Starting in the summer and fall of 2004, the option will be available to students studying in London, Turkey, Chile, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

According to Kathleen Maas Weigert, director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service, the exact nature of the service project will be determined by the host institution in each country. Projects will involve working with disadvantaged communities on issues including housing and education, she said.

“This program is a lovely combination of Georgetown’s justice tradition and international tradition coming together,” Weigert said.

She said that after these pilot programs are assessed, the service-learning option may expand to include other popular study-abroad destinations.

“That would be the dream,” she said. “[To expand the program] so that students would have this opportunity in any part of the world.”

According to Weigert, student interest in the program has been strong.

“[This program] would give me a chance to experience a part of foreign culture not accessible to most people,” Rob O’Rourke (COL ’07) said. “I think it’s important that we address world poverty because the world is growing ever more interconnected.”

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