Value of Service Learning Through Global Collaborations

AuthorDavid Tushaus,Christina Gillis
Published date01 January 2018
Date01 January 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Value of Service Learning
Through Global Collaborations
Christina Gillis1
David Tushaus2
This article outlines the importance of international clinical service learning in the area of legal
education. The article describes two mobile legal clinic projects in Nepal that are part of an international
collaboration between Forum for Nation Building (FNB), a non-governmental organization (NGO)
based in Nepal, a university professor hailing from the United States, law students and professionals.
Law students and professionals were recruited to be clinic volunteers and trained to form mobile legal
aid clinics.
Both projects began as a collaborative effort between a Nepal-based NGO and a professor from the
United States seeking to obtain funding to serve distressed populations in Nepal. Since earthquakes and
other natural disasters cause an immediate harm and threat of harm to residents of the area, the initial
response is to provide food, clothing and shelter to the most vulnerable sections. However, once the
initial shock is over and basic needs are met, many persons including survivors of domestic violence
among these displaced populations will have legal problems which will need to be addressed.
Although stationary clinics are important in providing services to such communities, they may be
inaccessible or otherwise unknown to those in greatest need who do not possess the means to travel
even a modest distance to reach them. This article will discuss how mobile clinics can be used to
provide legal aid on various issues including domestic violence to survivors of natural disasters with
specific reference to the earthquake that devastated Nepal in 2015.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enacted by the United Nations in its Preamble recognizes
that ‘the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom,
justice, and peace in the world’.3 There is a duty and responsibility on members of the legal profession
to work towards ensuring that the rule of law is accessible to all. This is necessary for laying the
1 Alumna, Missouri Western State University, Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA.
2 Professor, Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Social Work, Missouri Western State University, Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA.
3 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GA Res. 217 (III) A, UN Doc.A/RES/217(III) (Dec. 10, 1948).
Asian Journal of Legal Education
5(1) 1–20
© 2017 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2322005817730152
Corresponding author:
David Tushaus, Professor, Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Social Work, Missouri Western State University,
Wilson 204, 4525 Downs Drive, Saint Joseph, Missouri 64507, USA.
2 Asian Journal of Legal Education 5(1)
foundation of a fair and just system. Professors of law are in a unique position to impart knowledge
regarding teaching this duty to their students who shall be entering the profession. This article will
explore one way in which the formation and implementation of mobile clinics can provide service-
learning opportunities outside the classroom, which can benet both community members and the
students involved in the project.
Applied service learning can have many different meanings in the world of education. Different
colleges and universities offer service-learning programmes of different levels of intensity and content.
Some institutions have brief one-day programmes, while others offer longer programmes spanning one
to two years. The type of service-learning project that we will talk about involves an international
collaboration that is designed to include diversity that will foster new ideas and new ways of addressing
social injustice.
Three fundamental elements of clinical legal education constitute the global clinical movement,
namely skills training, experiential learning and installation of professional values and public res-
ponsibility.4 This applied learning approach was used in a project that included members from non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), US and Nepalese professors, legal professionals and volunteer law
students in the United States and Nepal. The project took place in Nepal through international
collaborations in which students from both the regions worked together. Students took part in formatting
and implementing community surveys to learn more about the people they would be assisting. Training
was an important part of the clinics, designed to equip students with the tools that they would need as
they took the mobile clinics to remote locations where the earthquake left communities devastated or to
domestic violence survivors who lacked access to legal information and assistance. This article will
explain the methodology of the clinics and review the attitudes of the volunteers and the respondents of
the survey. It will attempt to answer how applied service-learning projects are beneficial to students and
communities as well as comment on the effectiveness of these clinics.
History of Service Learning
Before proceeding with the specics of the project, understanding how learning through serving others
has become part of students’ education is important. The term service learning was rst dened in 1967
when colleges began receiving support from federal agencies to create service programmes for their
students.5 By the mid-1980s, the Campus Compact: The Project for Public and Community Service was
founded by college and university presidents in the United States in order to combine students’ education
with public service.6 Thereafter at a 1989 conference, the National Society for Experiential Education
attempted to dene best practices in a piece titled ‘Principles of Good Practice in Combining Service and
Notable pioneers in the field of learning by service and experience are American philosopher John
Dewey and modern mentor Ernest Boyer. Dewey originally wrote about the benefits of experiential
education in 1938, explaining that ‘there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of
4 Frank S. Bloch, Access to Justice and the Global Clinical Movement, 28 Wash. Univ. J. L. PoLy 111, 121 (2008).
5 Linda F. Smith, Why Clinical Programmes Should Embrace Civic Engagement, Service Learning and Community Based
Research, 10 CLin. LaW Rev. 723, 725 (2004).
6 Id.
7 Id. at 726.

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