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GlobalResolve service-learning program expands students' perspectives

Projects with local partners worldwide address climate change, community health, business and human rights


Students painting garden shed a light green color in an outdoor setting

Barrett Honors College student Ethan Johnson (foreground), a member of a GlobalResolve project team, paints a shed in the Andromeda Ethnobotanical Garden at the Biocultural Educational and Research Programme in Saint James, Barbados, last fall. Photo courtesy Ethan Johnson

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February 29, 2024

This March, Arizona State University honors students are using spring break to travel to Barbados and Mexico, where they will work on water and regenerative agroforestry projects with international partners.

It’s part of GlobalResolve, an international service-learning program through Barrett, The Honors College at ASU designed to enhance students’ educational experience through real-world projects that positively impact communities around the world.

Since GlobalResolve was launched in 2006, student project teams — led by ASU mentors in collaboration with community partners in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean — have developed projects addressing local challenges related to climate change, community health, and business and human rights. The focus is working with local partners on issues that matter to them.

“GlobalResolve does not create solutions and then search for problems. Rather, we look to our partners to identify issues of importance within their own communities, and then we work together to design solutions that address those challenges in a way that is sustainable and builds community resiliency,” said Jason Briggs, senior director of the Office of Global Initiatives at Barrett Honors College.

The program recently formed a joint project team with students at Tecnológico de Monterrey, focusing on binational water solutions and local accessibility and affordability of water in Sonora. In March, GlobalResolve students will travel to Hermosillo to work with their Tecnológico de Monterrey counterparts to further this new project.

In Barbados, the students will continue work begun last fall with the Biocultural Educational and Research Programme (BERP) in St. James, Barbados, along with a project with a second local partner added this semester: Walker’s Institute for Regenerative Research, Education and Design (WIRRED), a nonprofit think tank, research center and consultancy dedicated to regenerative agroforestry practices.

The GlobalResolve–WIRRED project will address dune erosion with a nature-based solution geared towards restoring habitat, and will include data collection and analysis of biodiversity on their reserve that will inform the direction of future collaboration, Briggs said.

Photo of GlobalResolve students in refurbished gardening shed
Students on the GlobalResolve project team celebrate the completion of refurbishing a work shed in the Andromeda Ethnobotanical Garden at the Biocultural Educational and Research Programme (BERP) in St. James, Barbados. Photo courtesy GlobalResolve

Last fall, ASU honors students worked with BERP helping refurbish two work sheds, clearing acreage of invasive plants, and designing and installing signage in the organization’s Andromeda Ethnobotanical Garden, which serves as a biodiversity reserve and biocultural collection used for community education and outreach.

A significant part of BERP’s work is educating the public about indigenous plants and their traditional value and use, with the goal of increasing present-day use and knowledge of these plants to address food insecurity on the island.

The ASU students also helped young students at three primary schools install garden planters, plant new crops, learn about composting and food security, and create signage to identify plants.

Sonia Peter, executive director of BERP, said the students greatly contributed to her organization and community.

“The project outputs were well received, and the students made a memorable impact in their work at the Andromeda Botanic Gardens and with our local schools in promoting the importance of food security,” Peter said.

Alden Carpenter, a sophomore honors student majoring in economics and business data analytics with the W. P. Carey School of Business, said working with GlobalResolve in Barbados expanded his interests.

“This project definitely helped to increase my international perspective, specifically on environmentalism, and has made me much more likely to consider that in my future endeavors,” he said. "GlobalResolve is a great way to work with other Barrett students and faculty from all backgrounds and majors, and receive honors credit for working on a project that is unlike anything I would typically do.”

Ethan Johnson, a senior honors student majoring in chemistry in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said his experience in Barbados will enhance his graduate school applications.

Working on the project “has given me the global outlook and cultural competence necessary to succeed abroad, as well as the interdisciplinary credentials to work with teams in academia,” he said.

Taryn Wilson, a senior studying aerospace engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering who participated in the Barbados garden project and who is in her third semester with GlobalResolve, said the program is the focus of her Barrett honors thesis.  

“I am developing a mentorship model that can be applied to this course to help further the work and projects being completed,” she said. “… I would encourage others to take the GlobalResolve course. It offers a unique opportunity for honors students of all years to participate in an interdisciplinary project team dedicated to finding solutions to problems ranging from human rights to conservation of biodiversity.”

Honors students of all majors can get involved by registering for the GlobalResolve course (HON 394). Students who have completed the HON 394 course and want to continue working on projects in the program may register for HON 494: GlobalResolve Lab. The GlobalResolve Lab is a repeatable one-credit course, allowing students to serve as team mentors on projects for multiple semesters.

GlobalResolve has courses and projects coming up in the fall. Interested students can find out more about the program on the GlobalResolve website or by emailing Briggs at Jason.Briggs@asu.edu.

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