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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
October 26, 2016
Canadian Excellence

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GSE- Global Studies Experience

For further information on the Global Studies Experience (GSE) for 2015/2016, please contact the GSE Coordinator, Dr. Alicia Sliwinski ( 

The Global Studies Experience (GSE) offers students an opportunity to connect academic inquiry with experiential activity by participating in volunteer placements around the globe. Living and working in different cultural contexts alongside community partners sets the stage for learning about oneself in relation to others and broadens one's awareness of the challenges of global justice and social equity.

In recent years, Laurier students have lived, learned and contributed to local development and peace building initiatives in a diverse range of cultural contexts, from South Africa to Nepal, from Vanuatu to Guatemala. The GSE is open to all Laurier students. (While completion of the GSE is not mandatory for Global Studies students, it is highly recommended.)

The experience of living and volunteering abroad can generate profound insights into what it means to live in a globalizing world. Cross-cultural exchange and the sharing of knowledge and differing outlooks firsthand, sheds light on how structures of global inequity are experienced in different community settings. Ideally, a volunteer placement also allows students to contribute to the communities in which they are placed while opening doors to new perspectives and future career possibilities.

Students are encouraged to begin the GSE in their third year; completion of 2.0 credits at the 200-level by is required to partake in the GSE. Students who have completed three years of course work prove to be better prepared to take advantage of the experiential learning component offered by GSE field placements.

There are three distinct components to the GSE: two classroom-based courses (GS398, "Global Studies in Practice" and GS399, "Post-Field Placement") as well as the volunteer placement abroad.  GS398 has two primary aims: first, to help students think critically about the possibilities and limitations of fieldwork in the context of the Global Studies Experience (GSE), and second, to provide students with practical strategies for a constructive fieldwork experience. GS 399 works within a social justice framework to help students make sense of, and build upon, their international experiences.

The GSE requirements are to be completed according to the following schedule:

a) Fall semester: students explore different volunteer placement opportunities (placements to take place during the following spring/summer) and apply for preliminary approval of their placement proposals;

b) Winter semester: students who anticipate doing a summer placement take GS398;

c) May-August: students do their volunteer placements (field placements must be a minimum of four weeks in duration);

d) Fall semester: students complete the post-placement course, GS399.

The GSE committee, comprised of the GSE coordinator and one other GS faculty member, will review and approve individual field placement proposals.  You will meet with the GSE Coordinator, Professor Alicia Sliwinski (, before you have submitted your application form, in order to discuss various volunteer possibilities, funding opportunities, and to clarify the expectations of the program.

For 2015/2016 academic year, the deadline for submission of applications has been extended to NOON, Tuesday, December 1, 2015. 

Please note: preliminary approval is for placement proposals only; final approval of placements will take place after students have their placements confirmed in writing (usually during the winter term) and complete the pre-departure forms; see the The GSE Step by Step page for more details and a link to the relevant forms.

Since students are responsible for both identifying and funding their volunteer placements, individual initiative is crucial to the success of the GSE. The Global Studies department maintains a list of volunteer placement opportunities, while a file containing post-placement student questionnaires is maintained in the GS office.

My World Abroad is also a useful resource. Individual on-line research, as well as contacts with friends, family, and fellow students, are also invaluable in terms of finding a placement that suits the interests of individual students. Students should also carefully research the costs of specific placement options, including airfare, placement fees of third-party placement agencies, insurance, medical fees (for vaccinations, etc.), and local food and accommodation.

You will find a valuable rubric for helping you to identify and evaluate potential placement options. You should bring this rubric to your initial meeting with the GSE Coordinator and be prepared to speak to it in relation to your proposed placement.

Other important GSE information:

GSE Prerequisites: To apply for the GSE and enrol in GS398, students must have completed at least 2.0 credits at the 200 level, and have attained at least a 7.0 (B-) average in their majors.

Pre-departure process and forms: Once students have received preliminary approval for the GSE and been given permission to register in GS398, they will need to provide a confirmation letter from their host organization and complete both an "agreement to participate"and an "acknowledgement of risk and responsibility" form. Details, as well as links to the relevant forms, can be found on the GSE Step by Step  page.