USRN Webinar Series #4.3: Service-Learning as a Vehicle for Global Learning and Internationalisation

Internationalisation and global learning are important learning outcomes in higher education, and an increasing amount of resources are poured into learning programs that facilitate global learning, such as student exchange or study tours.

Service-learning is a well-researched pedagogy that is known to be effective at nurturing students’ civic learning. Considering that many service-learning projects require students to cross socio-economic boundaries, including those of race, ethnicity and/or culture, and some projects even bring students offshore to serve, it makes sense to wonder whether service-learning could also be a vehicle to promote students’ global learning and Internationalisation.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been running a large offshore service-learning program for several years. Prior to COVID-19, almost 1000 students travelled away from home to serve communities from mainland China to Cambodia to Rwanda. This effort has continued with online international service-learning after COVID-19 put restrictions onto student and teacher mobility programs. Do students learn intercultural competencies and global citizenship through these programmes? What are some of the inherent challenges to teaching and measuring global learning in the context of service-learning? This talk will explore some of these issues and present our experiences and findings. 

Date:4 April 2022
Time:18:00 – 19:00 (Hong Kong SAR time, UTC+8)
Venue:Online via Zoom


  • Prof. Daniel T. L. Shek, Associate Vice President (Undergraduate Programme), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


  • Dr Grace Ngai, Head, Service-Learning and Leadership Office, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Dr Stephen C.F. Chan, Consultant and former Head, Service-Learning and Leadership Office, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

USRN Webinar Series #4.2: Community Engagement Using a Hybrid Approach

Digital media have increased the resources available to universities to develop and implement innovative university social responsibility (USR) projects using hybrid approaches of engagement. This webinar will focus on the USR projects developed by three different Faculties at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in order to continue with their USR projects, despite the constraints imposed by the national lockdown conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Pretoria Law Clinic will provide a presentation focusing on how the Clinic had been able to continue its community interventions through the creation of unique virtual communication and file management systems (parallel to the High Courts’ virtual “CaseLines” litigation system) and a hybrid infrastructure enabling virtual communication with clients. Department of Social Work & Criminology at the University of Pretoria will discuss the following three projects developed for their final-year students: (a) a video on motor skills exercises for learners, (b) podcasts shared on a virtual platform with older persons who had become increasingly isolated during the lockdown, and (c) a virtual support network for health care workers at a hospital using the WhatsApp platform. The Occupational Therapy Department will provide an input on interprofessional and interdisciplinary work coordination in resource-constrained contexts.

Date:28 March 2022
Time:18:00 – 19:00 (Hong Kong SAR time, UTC+8)
Venue:Online via Zoom


  • Prof. Norman Duncan, Vice-Principal: Academic, University of Pretoria


  • Prof. Antoinette Lombard, Head of Department: Social Work and Criminology, University of Pretoria
  • Mr Eddie Hanekom, Director, University of Pretoria Law Clinic
  • 4th year social work student (2021)
  • Mrs Helga Lister, Lecturer, Department of Occupational therapy, University of Pretoria

USRN Webinar Series #4.1: Civic Learning through a Service-Learning Requirement: Does It Work?

Service-Learning is well-known as an effective pedagogy for nurturing students’ civic awareness and social responsibility, and it is very common to find service-learning programmes in higher education institutions. However, most of these programmes are voluntary. Though they have been found to be impactful on students’ learning, students who participate of their own volition may already be somewhat civically inclined.

Less is known about the impacts of mandatory service-learning. Is it possible to mandate civic awareness and empathy? Will forcing students to serve the community backfire? Or, is civic learning no different from the common language, or mathematics requirement, which ensure that even students who are weak in language or maths achieve a basic level of competency?

In 2012, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University took the bold step in instituting a service-learning requirement for all undergraduate students. Today, ten years later, this programme reaches a total of almost 5,000 students annually. Students learn about a social issue and a potential solution, are prepared with the skills and expertise to execute their service project, spend 40 hours in direct service to the community, and are facilitated to reflect and learn from the experience.

This talk presents the results of two studies on this service-learning requirement: (1) how does such a requirement impact students, in particular, the less-inclined ones; and (2) whether this requirement have a lasting impact after graduation.

Date: 21 March 2022
Time:18:00 – 19:00 (Hong Kong time/ UTC+8)
Venue: Online via Zoom


Prof. Daniel T. L. Shek, Associate Vice President (Undergraduate Programme), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


  • Dr Grace Ngai, Head, Service-Learning and Leadership Office, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Dr Stephen C.F. Chan, Consultant and former Head, Service-Learning and Leadership Office, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

USRN Webinar Series #3: Engaged Research in Kyoto University: Global, Regional and Local Experiences

Founded in 1897, Kyoto University is the second oldest national university in Japan working as an international academic hub that promotes academic cooperation and nurtures innovation. In the light of the multiple complex issues that threaten the survival of humanity such as unexpected rapid climate change, large-scale natural disasters, and environmental degradation, among many others, Kyoto University aims to seek solutions and consistently share our progress with society.

From this perspective, Kyoto University has a tradition of engaging closely with society offering its contribution through interdisciplinary and engaged research integrating humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, medical and life sciences to promote innovation and bring actual solutions to social demands. Such contributions are developed as research projects that involve academic activities targeting the members of the community as primary beneficiaries.

In this webinar, Kyoto University aims to share some of their research project activities conducted in several faculties and departments and developed to be applied for the good of people and contribution toward the realization of harmonious coexistence in the global society.

Date: 9 December 2021
Time:20:00 – 21:00 (Japan time/ UTC+9)
Venue: Online via Zoom


Ms. Mariko Adachi, Specific Senior Lecturer at International Strategy Office, Kyoto University


Dr. Paola Sanoni, Specific Senior Lecturer at International Strategy Office, Kyoto University

USRN Webinar Series #2: AIMS University Social Responsibility (USR) for Sustainable Development

The Asian International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme is a regional flagship mobility initiative facilitated by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO RIHED), which comprises 80 universities across 9 countries. Established in 2009, the AIMS Programme has continued to advance the harmonisation and internationalisation processes of higher education towards a more inclusive and sustainable region.

With multiple social, economic, environmental, and public health challenges facing the world, SEAMEO RIHED’s AIMS Programme will continue to explore innovative approaches to learning and the integration of appropriate technologies for mobility, as well as promoting university social responsibility (USR) contributions in addressing societal challenges for a more sustainable future.

In this Webinar, the USRN and SEAMEO RIHED have invited regional and international experts to share global trends in USR, demonstrate how USR can promote sustainable development, and showcase USR good practices from participating AIMS universities from Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.

Date: 10 November 2021
Time:16:00 – 17:00 (Hong Kong time/ UTC+8)
Venue: Online via Zoom


Dr. I Made Andi Arsana, Head of Office of International Affairs, Gadjah Mada University


  • Dr. Romyen Kosaikanont, Centre Director of SEAMEO RIHED
  • Dr. Jennifer O’Brien, Academic Lead for Sustainability Teaching and Learning, The University of Manchester
  • Prof. Lara Johannsdottir, Professor of Environment and Natural Sciences, University of Iceland
  • Dr. Joyce Teo Siew Yean, Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Global Affairs), Universiti Brunei Darussalam
  • Dr. Hajah Zainab Haji Mohd Noor, Director, Department of International Affairs, UiTM Global, Universiti Teknologi MARA

USRN Webinar Series #1: USR in Action: Lessons Learned from the MOOC “Introduction to USR”

In February 2021 the University Social Responsibility Network launched a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) about theory and practice in University Social Responsibility. In this webinar, the speakers reflected on some of the lessons learned from the experience of creating this joint MOOC, and look into selected theoretical and practical aspects of the course content – effective institutional policies and practices. The future directions for online training in USR have also been discussed in the session.

Date: 20 October 2021
Time:12:00 – 13:00 (UTC)
Venue: Online via Zoom

Moderator & Speaker:

Dr. Fernando Palacio, Program Specific Senior Lecturer, International Strategy Office, Kyoto University


  • Dr. Nikan Sadehvandi, Project Manager of USR MOOC, Center for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education, Kyoto University
  • Professor Robert Hollister, Professor Emeritus, Tufts University, and Senior Advisor to the University Social Responsibility Network
  • Dr. Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility, The University of Manchester
  • Dr. Martina Jordaan, Head: Community Engagement Research and Postgraduate Studies, University of Pretoria

USRN Webinar: The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

On 6 October 2020 (2:00pm BTS), the University Social Responsibility Network organised a webinar on the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for its member institutions.

Using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as framework, Times Higher Education (THE) developed this new set of social impact rankings for higher education for a more sustainable and resilient future. The University Social Responsibility Network sees the significant role of the Impact Rankings in recognizing universities’ social responsibility performance, and has therefore taken the lead in organising a Webinar with THE, hoping to promote the Rankings and its methodology to member institutions of the USRN and advocate university social responsibility in a broad range of higher education institutions.


Mr. Duncan Ross, Chief Data Officer, Times Higher Education
Dr. Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility, The University of Manchester


Prof. Valmor Tricoli, President of International Affairs Office; Provost for International Cooperation, University of São Paulo