Critical distance: doing development education through international volunteering

Publication authors

Kristina Diprose


Development education is an under‐theorised aspect of international volunteering, yet it is implicit in the mission statements of many sending organisations when they promise a transformative experience. What does international volunteering offer, and can it make returned volunteers ‘think global’? This paper suggests a tentative definition of development education, outlining key pedagogical concepts that can be applied to analysis of international volunteering projects. Case study research about Platform2, a pilot ‘Global Learning’ scheme funded by the UK government, explores components and challenges of delivery. Discussion highlights the importance of formal structuring of educational opportunities, how international volunteering can both perpetuate and disrupt stereotypes of the global South, the role of proximity in expanding volunteers’ capacity to think critically about development, as well as the drawbacks of jumping scale to learn about citizenship.