Volunteer tourism and the eco-village : Finding the host in the pedagogic experience


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Publication Details

Author list: Prince, Solene

Publication year: 2019

Start page: 71

End page: 89

Number of pages: 19

ISSN: 2042-7913

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/hosp.9.1.71_1

View additional information: View in Web of Science


The pedagogical dimension of volunteer tourism (VT) is often used to position volunteering as an alternative form of tourism. Many researchers seeking to understand the expansion and benefits of VT have approached the practice through the frameworks of transformative learning and global citizenship education. These forms of education have been criticized by pedagogy and tourism scholars alike as they reproduce an elitist neo-liberal system that positions the needs and desires of volunteers before those of host-community members. The case of Sólheimar eco-village, Iceland, is used to explore the role of the host-community during volunteer tourist experiences aimed at fostering global citizenship. While it is observed that the needs of volunteers are often prioritized, the community members of the eco-village are nonetheless significant actors in the transformative education process of these volunteers. The ability of community-members to provoke reflection amongst volunteers over their complex position as members (albeit transient) of an eco-village represents a form of learning based in critical thinking. By acknowledging the role of the host during VT encounters, researchers can avoid fixing the meaning of transformative learning and global citizenship in ways that reproduce volunteer-centric discourses.


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