Seminar Programme

Seminar 1. Blurred Boundaries of International Volunteering

Wednesday, 11th February 2015, University of Brighton, Eastbourne Campus

This seminar seeks to engage discussion around a number of issues / questions. To what extent does domestic volunteering engage in dialogue with international volunteering? For example, a recent book entitled Volunteering and Society in the 21st Century (Rochester, et al. 2010) mentions volunteer tourism once (p.111), although there is rather more discussion (pp. 13-15) on Serious Leisure (Stebbins and Graham 2004; Stebbins 2007). Do domestic volunteers also engage in volunteering overseas? If they do, does this influence the type of volunteering after their return? To what extent does international volunteering influence the values of global citizenship? To what extent are volunteers who travel to be involved in a mega event part of this debate (at London 2012, 3% of the Gamesmakers were international volunteers (Dickson and Benson, 2013)? To what extent do international development organisations now offer short-term tourism type services? To what extent has this changed their funding / mission statements? To what extent has the large corporations engaging in volunteering as a product influenced the marketplace? (e.g. i to i was bought by First Choice Holidays, a profit maximizing firm).

Seminar 2. International Volunteering and the Millennium Development Goals: Making a Difference?

Wednesday, 25th March 2015, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Whilst delivering on the millennium development goals (UNDP, 2005) are often seen through the lens of ‘development studies’. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) engages in rhetoric of using tourism as a vehicle to help deliver poverty alleviation. In both of these discourses International volunteering plays a key role. Whilst the websites of companies and indeed, volunteers engage in a dialogue of ‘making a difference’ (Fee and Mdee, 2011; Hindle et al., 2007, Raymond, 2008) this seminar will take a critical review of making a difference to whom (e.g. the volunteer (CV building); the companies (profits from emotive selling)). Government initiatives such the DFID, International Citizen Service will be used as a vehicle to discuss the use of a range of organisations both development and tourism focused to deliver on their agenda. An area that has also received DFID funding in the past, yet is still an under researched area but enormous potential to deliver on the MDG’s is that of diaspora volunteering (Scheyvens, 2007; DVA, 2013).

Seminar 3. Examining the ‘Self’(volunteer) and the ‘Other’(communities)

Friday, 26th June 2015, University of Kent, Canterbury Campus

This seminar is designed to examine the two of primary stakeholders of international volunteering and the interface between them. Within the literature, the voice of the volunteer is predominant (McGehee and Santos, 2005; Brown and Lehto, 2005; Campbell and Smith, 2006) and more specifically the ‘Self’ (Wearing and Neil, 2000; Wearing and Deane, 2003; Wickens 2011) while the voice of the community is rarer although gathering momentum. Discourses around the areas of ‘they [being the community] are poor but happy’; international volunteering as neo-colonialism; the volunteer continuum of altruism to egoistic (Tomazos and Butler, 2010) will underpin the debates of this seminar. As part of the discussion on volunteers in this seminar the recent Evaluation of DFID’s International Citizens’ Service (ICS) Pilot Programme (DFID, 2012, p.10) will of interest in that 7.9% of the volunteers returned earlier than expected, half of these (48 volunteers) returned due discipline / behaviour issues.

Seminar 4. Impact, Sustainability and Legacy

Wednesday, 24th April 2015, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

This seminar will provide an opportunity to fully explore the impact, sustainability and legacy of International Volunteering. In particular the session debates orphanages (Richter and Norman, 2010; Slowe, 2010)) and the role of international volunteering where good intentions have created an untenable position. Further, there is much debate over the problems of short terms volunteering missions, however, what is not part of the these debates and perhaps should be is that often companies have been in destinations 10, 15 and in some case 20 years and whilst the volunteers are short term the projects and their commitment to communities are not (Benson, 2011).

Seminar 5. Evaluation of quality initiatives in International Volunteering

Friday, 24th June 2016, University of Kent, Canterbury Campus

This seminar is in response to the growing number of quality related issues surrounding international volunteering – example: in a recent discussion with Volunteering England they indicated that they were now receiving calls from international volunteers who were concerned about their poor overseas experience. Volunteering England indicated that they log these calls but do not have the capacity or remit to deal with the issues. Consequently, this seminar builds on and further develops from the ‘Pursuing Quality in International Volunteering’ workshop (held in Brighton 2013), which was funded by the ESRC as part of the Festival of Social Science. It will report lessons learnt from the workshop, update on current quality initiatives and further consider the way forward for this sector.

Seminar 6. The Future of International Volunteering

Monday, 18th July 2016, University of Brighton

This seminar will reflect upon the series of seminars and consider the future of international volunteering, part of this reflection will be to examine the dissemination during the series. The focus of the afternoon breakout sessions will be to consider the setting of the future research agenda and for the networking opportunities over the two years of the series between academics and practitioners to leave a lasting legacy.

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