Fair Trade Learning

Research demonstrates that most host communities that receive international volunteers and service-learning students would like to continue doing so, but under better termsBut clarifying the most appropriate terms is not simple. In a confusing global partnership process, agreeing upon and honoring better terms requires a clear strategy. Fair Trade Learning has emerged as one such strategy.

Fair Trade Learning is global educational partnership exchange that prioritizes reciprocity in relationships through cooperative, cross-cultural participation in learning, service, and civil society efforts. It foregrounds the goals of economic equity, equal partnership, mutual learning, cooperative and positive social change, transparency, and sustainability. Fair Trade Learning explicitly engages the global civil society role of educational exchange in fostering a more just, equitable, and sustainable world (Hartman, Morris Paris, & Blache-Cohen, 2013).

Use the tools

  1. Video: 3-minute overview of Fair Trade Learning

  1. Fair Trade Learning: Standards & principles
  2. Fair Trade Learning Rubric 
  3. Fair Trade Learning: 12 Questions for ALL Stakeholders (questions on page 99)

Join the movement

To make sure your volunteering or learning experience is a fair trade:

  1. Investigate whether your university, school, college, church, temple, mosque, or nonprofit volunteer provider practices FTL principles. Share the video with friends, other prospective volunteers, and group leaders, and ask whether your institution is engaging partnerships in ways that embrace the 4 C’s: Community-driven, Caring credibly, Capital conscious, and Continuously connecting (for a more complete list of FTL issues, check out the 12 questions on p. 99 here, or use the rubric below).
  2. If you’re a development practitioner or educator working with partnerships for cooperative development and global learning, consider the Fair Trade Learning Rubric as a tool to advance conversation on FTL commitments in new and existing partnerships.
  3. If you’re an educator, use The University of Kentucky’s Fair Trade Learning resource for course and program planning and dialogue featured as part of their Education Abroad Faculty Toolkit.
  4. To better understand why Caring Credibly includes avoiding clinical placements in health settings, visit articles on the topic on NPR, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, or numerous resources compiled by the GASP Working Group.
  5. To better understand why Caring Credibly includes avoiding orphanage tourism, read articles on the topic in The Guardian or visit the global, interagency initiative of the Better Volunteering, Better Care Network.

Build on the research

If you’re a researcher or development practitioner, and would like to engage the FTL literature or see where others are presenting on the topic, visit:

  1. Hartman, E., McNichols, A., Eccles, P. (2017). Ethical Global Partnerships. Presented at the Association of International Education AdministratorsAnnual Conference, Washington, DC.
  2. Hartman, E. (2015). Fair trade learning: A framework for ethical global partnerships. In M.A. Larsen, (Ed.), International Service Learning: Engaging Host Communities (Routledge Research in International and Comparative Education)
  3. Warren, KS and Quezada-Grant, A. (2015). Transformative Learning or Poverty Tourism? Ethical Considerations for Community Engagement Service-Learning Study Abroad Programs. Rhode Island Campus Compact Statewide Meeting.
  4. Tansey, J., Hartman, E., Kuhn, L., & Ogden, A. (2015, Mar 26). International education and ethical community partnerships: Considering Fair Trade Learning. Presented at The Forum on Education Abroad Conference, New Orleans, LA.
  5. Prado, P., Quezada-Grant, A., & Warren, K. (2014). “From poverty tourism to Fair Trade Learning: Best practices for ethical and responsible global service learning community engagement in Latin America.” 43rd National Society for Experiential Education Conference. Baltimore, MD.
  6. Hartman, E., Morris-Paris, C., & Blache-Cohen, B. (2014). Fair trade learning: Ethical standards for international volunteer tourism. Tourism and Hospitality Research.
  7. Hartman, E. & Chaire, C. (2014). Market incentives and international volunteers: The development and evaluation of fair trade learning. The Journal of Public Scholarship in Higher Education.
  8. Hartman, E., Morris-Paris, C., & Blache-Cohen, B. (2013). Tourism and transparency: Navigating ethical risks in voluntourism with fair trade learning. Africa Insight (42)2.
  9. Hartman, E. (2013). The market, ideals, and international volunteers: The story and the tensions behind Fair Trade Learning. International Service Learning Summit, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.