Virtual Transborder Service Learning as a Transformative Educational Pedagogy: A California, USA - Baja California, Mexico Academic Partnership in Sustainable Tourism


  • Katie Dudley California State University, Long Beach
  • Vinod Sasidharan San Diego State University
  • Marisa Reyes-Orta Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
  • Jose T. Olague Universidad Autónoma de Baja California



California-Baja California border region, civic capacities, global citizens, international e-service learning, sustainable tourism


Service learning (SL) engages students in intentional, collaborative service experiences that promote civic citizenship. The COVID-19 pandemic forced traditional face-to-face SL courses to transition into virtual service learning (e-SL). This paper examines the academic and civic outcomes of an e-SL binational sustainable tourism course for undergraduate students. The course was designed to deliver disciplinary knowledge in sustainable tourism and transborder civic citizenship competencies in the following areas: 1) Ethos, 2) Literacy, 3) Inquiry, 4) Action, 5) Leadership, and 6) Partnership. A post-course student survey was deployed to assess student perspectives regarding the achievement of course outcomes. The findings revealed significant (positive) academic and civic transformations among the students due to the intentionality of the e-SL course design and implementation. Results indicate that e-SL in sustainable tourism education can be an effective pedagogy for inculcating civic learning, responsibility, and engagement among students and future professionals in the field of tourism.

Abstract in Spanish

El aprendizaje de servicio (SL) involucra a los estudiantes en experiencias de servicio intencionales y colaborativas que promueven la ciudadanía cívica. La pandemia de COVID-19 obligó a los cursos tradicionales de SL cara a cara a hacer la transición al aprendizaje de servicio virtual (e-SL). Este documento examina los resultados académicos y cívicos de un curso binacional de turismo sostenible e-SL para estudiantes universitarios. El curso fue diseñado para impartir conocimientos disciplinarios en turismo sostenible y competencias de ciudadanía cívica transfronteriza en las siguientes áreas: 1) Ética, 2) Alfabetización, 3) Investigación, 4) Acción, 5) Liderazgo y 6) Asociación. Se implementó una encuesta de estudiantes después del curso para evaluar las perspectivas de los estudiantes con respecto al logro de los resultados del curso. Los hallazgos revelaron transformaciones académicas y cívicas significativas (positivas) entre los estudiantes debido a la intencionalidad del diseño e implementación del curso e-SL. Los resultados indican que el e-SL en educación turística sostenible puede ser una pedagogía efectiva para inculcar el aprendizaje cívico, la responsabilidad y el compromiso entre los estudiantes y futuros profesionales en el campo del turismo.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Katie Dudley, California State University, Long Beach

Katie D. Dudley, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at California State University, Long Beach. Her teaching and research focus is on tourism planning and development; how power dynamics influence stakeholder participation throughout a planning process, and the distribution of tourism impacts.

Vinod Sasidharan, San Diego State University

Vinod Sasidharan, Ph.D. is an associate professor of sustainable tourism management at San Diego State University. His teaching and scholarship are grounded in the pedagogy of international participatory action research in Sustainable Development, integrating transborder and global partnerships, engagement, and collaboration for enhancing civic engagement and citizenship outcomes and capacities for all stakeholders. Over the past twenty years, he has actively advanced professional engagement contributions to interdisciplinary, sustainable development-related global education and research.

Marisa Reyes-Orta, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Marisa Reyes-Orta, Ph.D. is a professor of sustainable management at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC), Baja California, México. She teaches and research focused on Sustainable Development and strategic management at the Facultad de Turismo y Mercadotecnia (FTyM). She has been responsible to different projects around to sustainable tourism: a cross-border education project in collaboration with San Diego State University, inclusive tourism promotion strategies in Tijuana, wine and enogastronomy tourism in Guadalupe Valley, under an action research approach.

Jose T. Olague, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Jose T. Olague, Ph.D. is a full professor assigned to the School of Tourism and Marketing of the Autonomous University of Baja California. As a researcher, he has addressed the topic of Consumer Behavior in Tourism Markets. In this area, he has published various works on the modeling of determining variables of the consumption behavior of tourist services in various markets. His teaching and research interests revolve around the application of market intelligence to product design to facilitate sustainable development options for tourist destinations.


Alegría, T. (2009). Metrópolis Transfronteriza. Revisión de las hipótesis y evidencias de Tijuana, México y San Diego, Estados Unidos. México: COLEF - Porrúa.

Baum, T., Kralj, A., Robinson, R. N., & Solnet, D. J. (2016). Tourism workforce research: A review, taxonomy and agenda. Annals of Tourism Research, 60, 1-22. DOI:

Boluk, K. A., Cavaliere, C. T., & Duffy, L. N. (2019). A pedagogical framework for the development of the critical tourism citizen. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(7), 865-881. DOI:

Brandauer, S., Carnine, J., DeGuzman, K., Grazioli, B., Lyons, L., Sandiford, N., & Hartman, E. (2022). Crisis as Opportunity: Reimagining Global Learning Pathways Through New Virtual Collaborations and Open Access During COVID-19. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(1), 9-23. DOI:

Brandauer, S., Sabato, E., Reynolds, N., & Hartman, E. (2022). A Civics of Interdependence: Advancing Global Solidarity Through Communities of Inquiry and Action. In Perspectives on Lifelong Learning and Global Citizenship: Beyond the Classroom (pp. 161-180). Cham: Springer International Publishing. DOI:

Bringle, R. G., Ruiz, A. I., Brown, M. A., & Reeb, R. N. (2016). Enhancing the psychology curriculum through service learning. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 15(3), 294-309. DOI:

Bringle, R. G., Studer, M., Wilson, J., Clayton, P. H., & Steinberg, K. S. (2011). Designing programs with a purpose: To promote civic engagement for life. Journal of Academic Ethics, 9(2), 149-164. DOI:

Brugués Rodríguez, A., Fuentes Flores, N. A., & Ramírez Cervantes, A. (2021). Análisis del patrón espacio-temporal de transmisión del COVID-19 por municipios de Baja California. Estudios fronterizos, 22. DOI:

Burke, A. S., & Bush, M. D. (2013). Service learning and criminal justice: An exploratory study of student perceptions. Educational Review, 65(1), 56-69. DOI:

Campus Compact. (2012). A praxis brief: Campus Compact’s response to a crucible moment: Campus learning and democracy’s future. Campus Compact.

Caton, K., Schott, C., & Daniele, R. (2014). Tourism’s imperative for global citizenship. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 2(14), 123-128. DOI:

Celio, C. I., Durlak, J., & Dymnicki, A. (2011). A meta-analysis of the impact of service-learning on students. Journal of Experiential Education, 34(2), 164-181. DOI:

Choi, E., Raymond, J., & Hentschel, M. (2018). Facilitating course connections and transitions to project closure in service learning. Journal of Experiential Education, 41(4), 411-424. DOI:

Cookson, R., Ali, S., Tsuchiya, A., & Asaria, M. (2018). E‐learning and health inequality aversion: A questionnaire experiment. Health Economics, 27(11), 1754-1771. DOI:

Cotterell, D., Hales, R., Arcodia, C., & Ferreira, J.-A. (2019). Overcommitted to tourism and under committed to sustainability: The urgency of teaching “strong sustainability” in tourism courses. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(7), 882–902. DOI:

Daniel, K. L., & Mishra, C. (2017). Student outcomes from participating in an international STEM service-learning course. Sage Open, 7(1), 1-11. DOI:

Deeley, S.J. (2010). Service-learning: thinking outside the box. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11(1), 43–53. DOI:

Dudley, K. D., Duffy, L. N., Terry, W. C., & Norman, W. C. (2021). The historical structuring of the US tourism workforce: a critical review. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1-16. DOI:

Fairlie, A., Portocarrero, J., & Herrera, E. (2021). Digitalization challenges for the internationalization of higher education in the countries of the Andean Community. Working Papers, 46, 2ª.

Figuccio, M. J. (2020). Examining the efficacy of e-service-learning. Frontiers in Education, 5, 606451. DOI:

Fonseca, D.P.C. (2021). Global Virtual Mobility Program: Innovating the student learning experience. GKA INNO 2021, 89.

Gasper-Hulvat, M. (2018). “More like a real human being”: Humanizing historical artists through remote service-learning. Journal of Experiential Education, 41(4), 397-410. DOI:

Gómez López, P. (2020). What will happen to the internationalization of higher education and student mobility after COVID-19? Digital Journal of Research in University Teaching, 14(2):15. 10.19083/ridu.2020.1348

Gretzel, U., Davis, E. B., Bowser, G., Jiang, J., & Brown, M. (2014). Creating global leaders with sustainability mindsets–Insights from the RMSSN summer academy. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 14(2), 164-183. DOI:

Grusky, S. (2000). International service learning: A critical guide from an impassioned advocate. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(5), 858-867. DOI:

Guthrie, K. L., & McCracken, H. (2014). Reflection: The importance of making meaning in e-service-learning courses. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 26(3), 238-252. DOI:

Harris, U. S. (2017). Virtual partnerships: engaging students in e-service learning using computer-mediated communication. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 27(1), 103-117. DOI:

Hartman, E., & Kiely, R. (2014). Pushing boundaries: Introduction to the global service-learning special section. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 21(1), 55-63.

Hernández, A. (2021). Flujos, contrabando y prácticas de ilegalidad en la frontera México-Estados Unidos: cruces fronterizos entre Tijuana y San Diego. Estudios fronterizos, (22), 7. DOI:

Hurtado Talavera, F. J. (2020). Education in times of pandemic: the challenges of the 21st century school. Journal of the Center for Research and Management Studies, 44 ed. July - August, 176-187.

INEGI. (2015). Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. Recuperado el 1 de november de 2018, de Cuéntame. Población.:

Jamal, T., Taillon, J., & Dredge, D. (2011). Sustainable tourism pedagogy and academic-community collaboration: A progressive service-learning approach. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 11(2), 133-147. DOI:

Kiely, R. (2004). A chameleon with a complex: Searching for transformation in international service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 10(2), 5-20.

Koliba, C. J. (2000). Moral language and networks of engagement: Service learning and civic education. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(5), 825-838. DOI:

Koris, R., Mato-Díaz, F. J., & Hernández-Nanclares, N. (2021). From real to virtual mobility: Erasmus students’ transition to online learning amid the COVID-19 crisis. European Educational Research Journal, 20(4), 463-478. DOI:

Lillo, S. R. (2019). In pursuit of community engagement: Unpacking the knowledge and skills associated with service-learning efforts. Journal of Research in International Education, 18(1), 3-22. DOI:

Lowe, L. A., & Medina, V. L. (2010). Service learning collaborations: A formula for reciprocity. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 91(2), 127-134. DOI:

Mak, B., Lau, C., & Wong, A. (2017). Effects of experiential learning on students: An ecotourism service-learning course. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 17(2), 85-100. DOI:

Malvey, D. M., Hamby, E. F., & Fottler, M. D. (2006). E-service learning: A pedagogic innovation for healthcare management education. The Journal of Health Administration Education, 23(2), 181-198.

Matteucci, X., & Aubke, F. (2018). Experience care: efficacy of service-learning in fostering perspective transformation in tourism education. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 18(1), 8-24. DOI:

McGorry, S. Y. (2012). No significant difference in service learning online. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 45-54. DOI:

McGrath, G. M., Lockstone-Binney, L., Ong, F., Wilson-Evered, E., Blaer, M., & Whitelaw, P. (2020). Teaching sustainability in tourism education: a teaching simulation. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 29(5), 795-812. DOI:

Meda, K. M. R., & Gutiérrez, A. T. M. (2021). Los Albergues para Migrantes en México frente al COVID-19: el caso de Mexicali, Baja California. Huellas de la Migración, 5(10), 31-51. DOI:

Méndez Fierros, H., & Reyes Piñuelas, E. P. (2021). Fear of others. Digital media representations of the US-Mexico border and COVID-19. Estudios fronterizos, 22. DOI:

Merryfield, M. (2003). Like a veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3(2), 146-171.

Miranda, B., & Hernández, A. S. (2022). Gestión desbordada: solicitudes de asilo en Estados Unidos y los mecanismos de espera allende sus fronteras. Migraciones Internacionales, 13. DOI:

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. DOI:

Monte Madrigal, J. A. D. (2021). Vidas rompibles en el vórtice de precarización: políticas de expulsión, procesos de exclusión y vida callejera en Tijuana, México. Norteamérica, 16(2), 183-207. DOI:

Motley, P., & Sturgill, A. (2014). Cultivating a professional ethic in covering marginalized populations: Learning about the poor through service-learning. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 69(2), 166–179. DOI:

National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement. (2012). A crucible moment: College learning and democracy’s future. Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Peña, S. (2021). US–Mexico border cities and territorial development trends. In Border Cities and Territorial Development (pp. 228-245). Routledge. DOI:

Reysen, S., & Katzarska-Miller, I. (2013). A model of global citizenship: Antecedents and outcomes. International Journal of Psychology, 48(5), 858-870. DOI:

Ross, T. (2021). Journalism alongside: A reflection on teaching journalism through community engagement. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 31(1), 10–18. DOI:

Sattin, C. (2007). Learning in the global era (pp. 1-43). In M. M. Suarez-Orozco (Ed.). Learning in the global era: International perspectives on globalization and education (pp. 1-43). Los Angeles: University of California Press. DOI:

Seifer, S. D., & Mihalynuk, T. V. (2005). The use of technology in higher education service-learning. Retrieved from

Smit, E. M., & Tremethick, M. J. (2017). Value of online group reflection after international service-learning experiences: I never thought of that. Nurse Educator, 42(6), 286-289. DOI:

Stolley, K. S., Collins, T., Clark, P., Hotaling, D. E., & Takacs, R. C. (2017). Taking the learning from service learning into the postcollege world. Journal of Applied Social Science, 11(2), 109-126. DOI:

Strait, J., & Hamerlinck, J. (2010). Service-learning in online courses webinar. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from Center for Digital Civic Engagement website:

Strait, J., & Sauer, T. (2004). Constructing experiential learning for online courses: The birth of e-service. Educause Quarterly, 27(1), 62-65.

Tharp, D. S. (2012). A proposed workshop curriculum for students to responsibly engage cultural conflict in community-based service learning. Journal of Transformative Education, 10(3), 177-194. DOI:

Torres Martín, C., Acal, C., El Honrani, M., & Mingorance Estrada, Á. C. (2021). Impact on the virtual learning environment due to COVID-19. Sustainability, 13(2), 582. DOI:

Tyran, K. L. (2017). Transforming students into global citizens: International service learning and PRME. The International Journal of Management Education, 15(2), 162-171. DOI:

UNWTO. (2013). Sustainable Tourism for Development Guidebook. UNWTO.

US Census Bureau. (2017). United States Census Bureau. Recuperado el 1 de november de 2018, de Population.

Veyvoda, M. A., & Van Cleave, T. J. (2020). Re-imagining community-engaged learning: service-learning in communication sciences and disorders courses during and after COVID-19. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 5(6), 1542-1551. DOI:

Waldner, L. S., Widener, M. C., & McGorry, S. Y. (2012). E-service learning: The evolution of service-learning to engage a growing online student population. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(2), 123-150.

Waldner, L.S. (2015). eService-learning: Breaking through the barrier. In J. Strait, & K. J. Nordyke (Eds.), eService-learning: Creating experiential learning and civic engagement through online and hybrid courses (pp. 20 – 39). Stylus. DOI:

Yang, M., Luk, L.Y.Y., Webster, B. J., Chau, A.W.L., & Ma, C.H.K. (2016). The role of international service-learning in facilitating undergraduate students’ self-exploration. Journal of Studies in International Education, 20(5), 416-436. DOI:




How to Cite

Dudley, K., Sasidharan, V. ., Reyes-Orta, M., & Olague, J. . (2024). Virtual Transborder Service Learning as a Transformative Educational Pedagogy: A California, USA - Baja California, Mexico Academic Partnership in Sustainable Tourism. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 36(1), 660–687.



Learning from COVID-19