Chapter 1: International service-learningas a driver for sustainability competencies development
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The acquisition of skills from universities related to the field of sustainability is one of the significant challenges of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In universities, students can acquire formal knowledge, perspectives, values and skills that can be put to the service of disadvantaged populations to improve the quality of life of communities through targeted interventions. The European University of Madrid (EU) is a private Spanish university that stands out among the HEIs for having a wide variety of degrees, schools and students of different nationalities that allows for the organisation of multidisciplinary and multicultural work groups. Results obtained in the last three years from an international volunteer programme are evaluated from two perspectives: (A). Service: analysing the perspectives of the local population concerning what objectively has been done in their community and how much it has subjectively impacted their lives, and (B). Learning: studying the experience of students who have been working in this programme, assessing the acquisition of skills and values from their education in sustainable development. The most significant findings are: (1) the local population confirms that this programme is improving their quality of life, (2) students in the volunteer programme increase their quantitative and qualitative sensitivity, and (3) the service-learning approach has proved useful for developing sustainability competencies that can be replicated in different contexts.

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