Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


The aim of the capstone is to explore the role of critical pedagogy as a transformative philosophy for critical consciousness by examining the Freireian methodologies of the organization Thinking Beyond Borders. TBB is a ‘gap-year’ program designed for youth to study international development in 8 countries over 8 months with the goal of questioning assumptions. With the ideological hegemony of classical neoliberal economics increasing inequality through globalization, alternative educational paradigms that promote critical and creative thinking are needed. What can be done within education to cultivate citizens capable of mitigating and transcending the homogenizing tendencies of globalization, nurturing a ‘global consciousness’? Can a ‘gap-year’ program significantly shift the consciousness of its’ participants to the point of life-long engagement in pressing global issues?

I reflected on the experience of privileged young Americans striving to become conscious global citizens and proactive agents of change. Methods included participant observation (reflecting on my observations throughout the year as program leader), trace measures (using the student’s media projects and blog posts to understand the development in their thinking), and content analysis (examining the curriculum and organizational structure). Findings illustrate that students’ meta-cognitive skills increased throughout the program, supporting the need for critical pedagogy as a tool for self-actualization and social justice.


International and Comparative Education