First Presenter's Institution

Nobis Project

Second Presenter's Institution


Third Presenter's Institution


Fourth Presenter's Institution


Fifth Presenter's Institution



Session 2 (Vernon)

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills


This session explores how service-learning is a tool for student empowerment, cooperative learning, building 21stcentury skills, and developing a sense of empathy through civic engagement. The presented model understands the critical role of building relationships with students and community partners by listening to their stories. This approach recognizes that for students, or educators, to understand their social responsibility to engage in the world, they must first examine their personal experiences of power, history, and relationships. This session offers teachers the tools to nurture critical conversations between the students and their community-partner, conversations around the complexity of power and privilege, and sustaining relationships.

Brief Program Description

How do we teach democracy when participation was historically limited, and when people are still disenfranchised by the system put in place to give them voice? A challenging part of service-learning is exposing students to the world’s imperfections and then guiding them to be change agents. Learn how to navigate this throughexamples you can take back to your classroom.


How do we teach about the value of democracy and the “power of the people” when participation was historically limited to a certain group, and when people continue to be disenfranchised by the very system put in place to give them a voice? A challenging part of service-learning, at all ages, is exposing students to the complexity and imperfections of the world we live in and then guiding them to be agents of change. This workshop provides participants with tools for engaging students in critical reflection and courageous conversations around citizenship, human rights, race, class, power, and social justice by introducing the Nobis Global Action Service-Learning Model.

Lilla Watson famously said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Helping students understand how their liberation is bound with others requires exploring the idea of dominant narrative. A dominant narrative is a story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies. It usually achieves dominance through repetition, normalization, and the silencing of alternative accounts. In almost any topic you explore with your students, there will be dominant narratives that they have encountered and may believe uncritically. This workshop supports educators in addressing dominant narratives that apply to the current topic your students are exploring in their service-learning experience.

During this interactive workshop participants hear stories from teachers on how they fold the above ideas into their service-learning work using the Nobis Global Action Service-Learning Model in their classrooms. During this interactive workshop, participants explore the model through reflection, sharing practices, and brainstorming ways to change, or enhance, their curriculum. Participants hear detailed stories on how educators use this model in their classrooms.


In our increasingly globalized society, young people need an education that prepares them to become informed, active, and responsible global citizens, both at home and abroad. Similarly, teachers struggle to have critical conversations about equity, inclusion, diversity and global justice in the classroom. In order to do this work, teacher need to know about the local, national, and global communities in which they live and work. As educators, we need to address the fundamental ‘why’ of teaching, the profound and transformative possibility that is education, and the moral imperative we have to effect such transformative classrooms. Andrew Delbanco argues that students “ . . . may still be deterred from sheer self-interest toward a life of enlarged sympathy and civic responsibility” (44). Educators need to make tangible students’ being “able to see the world through another’s eyes” (Delbanco). This session explores a service-learning model that builds educators’ skills and confidence in teaching and preparing students and teachers for these discussions.

The research-based and teacher-tested service-learning model presented in this session enables deep classroom discourse about poverty, race, class, power, and privilege through a global lens. What is unique about this presentation is its introduction to a process that fosters conversations and dialogue within our schools and classrooms around global citizenship. We recognize that you cannot talk about our global interconnectedness, our shared fate and our social responsibility without first looking at our personal experiences and understandings of power, history, and relationships. The approach shared in this session is beneficial for students, but also for educators and schools seeking to become more culturally responsive to their students as well as to their wider community. By using this method of self-discovery we challenge traditional ways of viewing the world and look for sustainable changes that benefit humanity.

The Nobis Global Action Model and the Nobis Big Ideas framework were collaboratively developed by educators, scholars, and community partners. These models and accompanying lesson plans are freely available to all and widely used by educators teaching pre-kindergarten through higher education throughout the United States.


Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Christen Clougherty, Ph.D. is the Founder and Executive Director of the Nobis Project, a non-profit educational organization that focuses on developing educators’ capacity to foster reciprocal and meaningful community partnerships, build cultural responsive classrooms, and promote a social justice approach to service-learning. Clougherty has over eighteen years of experience as an educator and administrator in community organizations, K-12 public, charter and independent schools, and colleges/universities. Christen received her Ph.D. in Quaker Studies from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom where she completed her doctoral research on the synthesis of experiential education, service-learning, creative-process theory, and global citizenship education.

Keyword Descriptors

service-learning, critical reflection, social justice, dominant narrative, global citizenship, democracy, equity, power, history, civic engagement

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-4-2019 1:15 PM

End Date

3-4-2019 2:30 PM

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Mar 4th, 1:15 PM Mar 4th, 2:30 PM

Learning to Listen: Engaging Students in Critical Reflection and Courageous Conversations

Session 2 (Vernon)

How do we teach democracy when participation was historically limited, and when people are still disenfranchised by the system put in place to give them voice? A challenging part of service-learning is exposing students to the world’s imperfections and then guiding them to be change agents. Learn how to navigate this throughexamples you can take back to your classroom.