Service Learning Advances Responsible Business in Brazil

HEC Montréal students apply their business skills while advancing sustainable business in a struggling community. Instructors share lessons learned.
Chelsea Hicks-Webster September 6, 2017
Dr. Marlei Pozzebon and Dr. Luciano Barin-Cruz are professors at HEC Montreal, a business school in Quebec, Canada.

They describe their service learning program in Brazil:

HEC Montreal offers student exchange opportunities in five countries through its International Campus program. The International Campus program in Brazil, however, is unique from HEC programs in other countries, as service learning and responsible business are at its core.

Pozzebon and Barin-Cruz first led students to the village of Jericoacoara, Brazil in 2010. Their team now works closely with a local community group to plan and implement responsible business projects. Students thus have the opportunity to apply their business skills while advancing sustainable business in a struggling community.

Each year, a new group of students travels to Brazil for two weeks. Students undergo pre-departure training. Upon their return, they participate in a debrief session and submit a final report on their work and its expected impact. Through the program, students earn three credits towards their degree.

The service learning pedagogy employed in the course is founded on four pillars:
  1. Reality: Learning should reflect real societal issues.
  2. Reflection: Reflection increases retention. The program includes structured daily discussions, which allow students to reflect on concepts, challenges and learnings.
  3. Reciprocity: Traveling should be beneficial for travellers and local communities alike.
  4. Responsibility: Exposure to communities in need creates awareness in students and builds a sense of responsibility.

Community Projects

Three projects are currently underway in Jericoacoara:

Benefits of the Service Learning Program

Pozzebon and Barin-Cruz share the positive outcomes service learning has had for students, the community of Jericoacoara and themselves:

Advice for Running a Service Learning Program

Pozzebon and Barin-Cruz offer advice for centres considering a service learning program.

More Information

For more information, contact Luciano Barin-Cruz or Marlei Pozzebon.