Date of Thesis

Spring 2012


Higher education has a responsibility to educate a democratic citizenry and recent research indicates civic engagement is on the decline in the United States. Through a mixed methodological approach, I demonstrate that the potential exists for well structured short-term international service-learning programming to develop college students’ civic identities. Quantitative analysis of questionnaire data, collected from American college students immediately prior to their participation in a short-term service-learning experience in Northern Ireland and again upon their return to the United States, revealed increases in civic accountability, political efficacy, justice oriented citizenship, and service-learning. Subsequent qualitative analysis of interview transcripts, student journals, and field notes suggested that facilitated critical reflection before, during, and after the experience promoted transformational learning. Emergent themes included: (a) responsibilities to others, (b) the value of international service-learning, (c) crosspollination of ideas, (d) stepping outside the daily routine to facilitate divergent thinking, and (e) the necessity of precursory thinking for sustaining transformations in thinking. The first theme, responsibilities to others, was further divided into subthemes of thinking beyond oneself, raising awareness of responsibility to others, and voting responsibly.


Civic Identity, Civic Engagement, Civic Responsibility, College Student, Identity Development, Service Learning, International Service Learning

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Education


Education - college student personnel

First Advisor

Joseph L. Murray

Second Advisor

Richard B. Henne-Ochoa