UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the possibilities of a post-critical approach to student north-south mobility experiences : a case study of a social innovation and community development program in Fortaleza, Brazil Sutherland, Ali


North to South mobility experiences are increasingly offered as components of higher education, be it in the form of international service learning or study abroad. While these experiences are often associated with transformation on the part of the participants, the conceptualizations of what this transformation is or could be are dependent on whether it is undertaken through a traditional, critical or post-critical conceptual approach. This study grows out of an identified lack of well-documented alternatives to the dominant (traditional and critical) approaches to North-South mobility experiences in higher education as well as a frustration with scholarly work that is limited to critique. This thesis explores the possibility of a post-critical approach to educational North to South mobility experiences and how this might foster transformation that shifts how participants of the program relate to themselves, others, and knowledge. This thesis aims to investigate how a post-critical conceptualization, as distinct from a traditional or critical one, might contribute to widened possibilities for the North to South mobility encounter in higher education that could allow for dominant narratives and affective patterns to begin to be disrupted. This research study is an intrinsic case study which included participant observation and in-depth semi-structured interviews with participants of the Social Innovation and Community Development program in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2017. The case is a living example of the tensions and paradoxes inherent in North to South mobility experiences. The findings that emerge illustrate the challenges of articulation and challenges of design involved in implementing an educational North to South mobility experience characterized by a post-critical approach. The analysis showed that participants’ experiences of transformation were very much framed within the scripts that are most dominant and available to them. The case study highlighted challenges of articulation and design of a post-critical approach, but also demonstrated how there continues to be pedagogical potential in these types of encounters to engage with an education that disrupts the persistent narratives and desires that constrain relationships (with self, others and knowledge) in ways that are epistemologically and ontologically limiting.

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