Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


DVST101 Humanitarian Work and Aid AND DVST202 Preparation for Community-Based Global Experience


DVST304 Development Education Immersion Experience , DVST308 Development Special Project

Unit rationale, description and aim

This capstone unit provides students with the opportunity to see International Development work in practice. Students will undertake a structured global learning experience that will allow them to experience the culture and reality of communities in a development context. Students will engage in an ethical, engaging and creative experience that facilitates genuine intercultural connection through meetings with development and humanitarian agencies. The aim of this unit is to develop students’ critical analysis of various approaches to humanitarian and development work, to strengthen students’ empathy and understanding of issues of human rights and human dignity, and for students to emerge from the experience ready to apply what they have learnt in their future careers.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate cultural awareness and respect for human rights and dignity (GA1, GA3, GA7)

LO2 - Investigate and critically evaluate a development issue, theory or practice of international development in the context of the country they visit (GA5, GA7, GA9)

LO3 - Critically analyse, evaluate and reflect on development knowledge and its application in the development field (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6)

LO4 - Critically reflect on their own learning, knowledge and skills in relation to becoming a future development professional. (GA4, GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

Students will be exposed to a wide variety of international development topics during their overseas experience. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal development
  • Global citizenship
  • Culture & cultural differences
  • Historical context of the country they are visiting
  • Foreign aid & development
  • Sustainability
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Responsible tourism
  • Service & responsible giving
  • Education & development
  • Natural & heritage conservation
  • Global health
  • Humanitarian work

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode/Attendance Pattern: Compulsory information sessions, pre-departure sessions and post-DEIP debrief session/s.

  • Pre-departure sessions enable students to emotionally and mentally prepare for their immersion experience in a particular developing country (in order to navigate the intensity of culture shock on arrival). Pre-departure preparation forms part of the risk management component of the program and is therefore mandatory.
  • A mandatory overseas experience of a minimum of three weeks that includes interaction with local communities and NGOs working in development, mentored by partner organisation.
  • Compulsory post-experience evaluation session/s. Reverse culture shock has been experienced by students from previous cohorts as indicated through student feedback. The post experience sessions are important to ensure that students are able to readjust to their home country satisfactorily upon their return, a process which forms part of the risk management of the program. Assessment may take place during the post-experience sessions.


Duration: Several classes prior to commencing overseas experience, minimum of three weeks of fieldwork or equivalent, post-experience evaluation session/s.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessments will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.


Students will write a reflective journal - a progressive piece of work which reflects the student’s developing knowledge and critical reflective practice. The journal is a focussed examination on the learning experience that were offered whilst on their Global Learning Experience.


The second assignment gives students the opportunity to deeply investigate a particular area of scholarship and professional practice in international development. Students will undertake a substantial research project which requires independent investigation and critical analysis of a specific development issue, theory or practice of international development in the country they visit.

Student will choose their own topic for this research project (e.g. climate change and development; human-rights based approaches to development; gender and development; international cooperation and governance of development).

They will produce a report which needs to reflect current knowledge, policies and practices in regard to the chosen topic, and which provides feasible recommendations on how policies and practices can be improved.


Lastly, students will prepare a Development Practitioner Report in which they critically assess one development practitioner or organisation from their overseas experience. Students will use interviews and observations as they interact with their selected practitioner/organisation while in-country and must demonstrate an ability to then evaluate the development practices in written form, upon their return.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Reflective Journal

This assessment task will allow the students to progressively report on their developing understanding of development in the region using critical reflective practice.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7

Research Report

This task will enable students to undertake a substantial research task requiring independent investigation and critical analysis of a specific development issue, theory or practice in the country they visit.


LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9

Development Practitioner Report

This task requires students to critically assess at least one practitioner or organisation from their overseas experience in the form of a written report evaluating the development practice and what they learnt through that experience.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7

Hurdle tasks*

a) immunisation certificate signed by qualified medical expert showing up-to-date immunisations relevant to destination country

b) current National Police Check or Working With Children Check

c) Registration of trip details with ACU- recommended emergency service (eg International SOS)

Representative texts and references

Alonso G, & Longo, N. (2015). Community voices: Integrating local and international partnerships through storytelling. Partnerships: A Journal of Service Learning and Civic Engagement, 6(2), 1–18.

Arends, J. (2014). “Just collecting data for the White guys”: Community impacts of service-learning in Africa. Retrieved from

Balusubramaniam, R., Hartman, E., McMillan, J., & Paris, C. (In press). Ethical global partnerships: Leadership from the global south. In D. E. Lund (Ed.), Handbook of service-learning for social justice. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Bruce, J. (2016). (Beyond) the death of global service-learning and the White saviour undone. Retrieved from

Burleson, K. (2015). A guidebook for the development of cultural mindedness. Retrieved from

Cameron, J. (2014). Grounding experiential learning in “thick” conceptions of global citizenship. In R. Tiessen & R. Huish (Eds.), Globetrotting or global citizenship? Perils and potential of experiential learning (pp. 21–42). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Collier, J. (Ed.). (2014). Community engagement and intercultural praxis: Dancing with difference in diverse contexts (Critical Intercultural Communication Studies). New York, NY: Peter Lang

Hartman, E. (2018), Building a Better World : The Pedagogy and Practice of Ethical Global Service Learning, edited by Judith V. Boettcher, Stylus Publishing, LLC

Manyozo, L. (2017) Communicating Development With Communities, Routledge: Abingdon, UK, and New York, NY:

Ross, L. (2010). Notes from the field: Learning cultural humility through critical incidents and central challenges in community-based participatory research. Journal of Community Practice, 18(2–3), 315, 335.

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