Authentic Collaboration and Active Commitment to Equity: An Evolving Case of Centering Marginalized Voices in Education Abroad




Nepal, decolonial pedagogy, project-based learning, rural community development, educational equity


Nepal: Community, Technology and Sustainability brings together cohorts of US-based university students and Nepalese university students in a hybrid online/mobility program that supports intercultural, interdisciplinary, community-engaged, project-based learning. The program seeks to adopt a decolonial pedagogical model that centers the Nepali co-instructors, students, and host community partners as critical knowledge holders, sovereigns of their own development, and co-producers of the educational experience. This article provides a conceptual framework for centering typically marginalized voices, a description of the program and an edited version of a dialogue between several of the course co-instructors. Our major findings are that to achieve these ends, the values of decolonialization and equitable voice must be built into all elements of the program; that this requires pushing against many conventions of education abroad programming and, in some cases, community practices; and that this push can yield transformative outcomes for students, instructors, and communities.

Abstract in Nepali

नेपालः कम्युनिटी, टेक्नोलोजी र सस्टेनेबिलिटीले अन्तरसांस्कृतिक, अन्तरविषयक, सामुदाय संलग्न परियोजनामा आधारित सिकाई मोडेल प्रयोग गरी हाइब्रिड अनलाइन/गतिशिलता कार्यक्रममार्फत अमेरिकाका विश्वविद्यालयका विद्यार्थीहरू र नेपालका विश्वविद्यालयका विद्यार्थीलाई एकै ठाउँमा ल्याउँछ । यो कार्यक्रमले विऔपनिवेशिक (डीकोलोनिअल)  शिक्षण सिकाई मोडेल प्रयोग गर्दछ जसले नेपाली सह–शिक्षक, विद्यार्थी, र आयोजक सामुदाय नै ज्ञानका महत्वपूर्ण धारक हुन्, आफ्नो विकासको लागि सार्वभौम हुन्छन् र शैक्षिक अनुभवका सह–निर्माता हुन् भन्ने विषयलाई जोड दिन्छ । यस लेखले सीमान्तकृत आवाजलाई केन्द्रित गर्ने अवधारणाको रूपरेखा, कार्यक्रमको विवरण र निर्देशित पाठ्यक्रम पढाउने धेरै सह–प्रशिक्षकसँगको संवादको सम्पादित संस्करण प्रस्तुत गर्छ । यी लक्ष्यहरू प्राप्त गर्न कार्यक्रमका सबै तहमा विऔपनिवेशिक र समानताका आवाजका मूल्य तथा मान्यता जोडिनुपर्छ;  यसका लागि विदेशमा शिक्षा प्राप्त गर्ने कार्यक्रमका परम्परा र केही अवस्थामा, सामुदायिक अभ्यासविरुद्ध केही कदम चालिनु पर्छ, र यस्ता कदमले विद्यार्थी, प्रशिक्षक र समुदायका लागि परिवर्तनकारी परिणामहरू ल्याउन सक्छन भन्ने यस आलेखको निष्कर्ष हो ।


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Author Biographies

Nancy Erbstein, UC Davis School of Education & Global Affairs

Nancy Erbstein is an Associate Professor of Education in Residence and Associate Vice Provost of Global Education at UC Davis. She focuses her research and teaching on how regions produce and disrupt racial and ethnic disparities in youth well-being and how critical civic engagement and global learning can promote stronger, more equitable youth and young adult outcomes. Nancy holds a BA in Education and South Asian Studies from Brown University and a MA and Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Studies in Education from UC Berkeley.

Jonathan London, UC Davis

Jonathan K London is a Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis. He is a social scientist with expertise in rural community development, environmental justice, and participatory research. He began working in Nepal in 1991 on a youth-led intergenerational oral history project. Jonathan as a BA from Brown University in Environmental Studies, a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in environmental social science from UC Berkeley.

Bijaya Poudel, Hands On Institute

Bijaya Raj Poudel is a Co-founder and Director of Hand-On Institute, which runs international experiential trips with marginalized communities in. Nepal. Bijaya has a decade of experience working with community and youth. Bijaya served in leadership roles in the Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON)- a national network of youth-led organizations and other various organizations and ran a wide range of community development projects. Bijayaa received his master’s degree in Anthropology from Tribhuvan University.

Samrat Katwal, Hands On Institute

Samrat Katwal has traveled and learned in remote Himalayan communities. His expertise especially focuses on youth and sustainability. He has worked with organization including WWF Nepal, DFID/CSO Youth Working Group, Northwest Youth Corps, KOICA, among others. He is the past president of Youth Engagement in Sustainability (YES) Nepal and holds a Masters in Sustainable Development Practice.


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How to Cite

Erbstein, N., London, J., Poudel, B., & Katwal, S. (2022). Authentic Collaboration and Active Commitment to Equity: An Evolving Case of Centering Marginalized Voices in Education Abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(3), 73–93.