Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255

What is Global Service Learning?

GSL students standing in front of the Sravanabelagola Jain statue

Global Service Learning is a course-based or co-curricular form of cross-cultural, experiential education wherein students, faculty, staff and institutions collaborate with diverse community stakeholders on an organized service activity to address social problems and issues in the community. Richard Kiely, Director Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research (CCELR), Cornell University. 

Global service learning is the experience that can help students understand the problems that plague a local community through collaborative work and solution based efforts.  For students it widens the extent and possibility of scholarship, but for the world it can offer an invaluable means of relief.  Service learning projects provide for a more educated and informed student (a responsible global citizen) who can use this experience to think critically about the theory of an issue, the real world outcomes and how to change them by hands-on practice.  Students are forced to engage in the problems that afflict global communities at even the most local of scales. Service learning motivates reflection with one's own humanity and inspires personal growth, while significantly aiding the global community in its quest for a better tomorrow.