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I feel that in order to have value in my future workplace I should be doing something to help others, and I think social justice and/or global citizenship are integral to that.

-2016 London Participant

The OACS London Service Program was one of the top three best experiences of my life. I love talking about it!

2015 London Participant

Best aspects included getting to know and having discussions with the rest of the cohort; learning about the NHS; seeing policy and public health projects in action; experiencing London; my volunteer experience; sitting in on the House of Lords; the diversity both in our group and in London; and learning about Newham. 

-2014 London Participant

Cohort members meet with Stephen Timms MP at the House of Parliament

Cohort members meet with Stephen Timms MP at the Houses of Parliament



Site Leader: Dave Brown

Dates: July 1st – August 11th, 2017

Program Fee: $5,600 + Flight

Application Deadline: November 15th, 2016

Click here to apply! 

London is one of the most culturally and economically dynamic cities in the world and has a rich historical narrative. It holds endless potential for contextualizing modern development issues in an international setting. This service-learning experience is a unique opportunity to live and work with the diverse communities of east London. The program has been developed with key stakeholders to bring awareness and activism to issues of public health, immigration and community development.

The key objective of this program is to immerse students in service through partnerships with local organizations in the London Boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Hackney. Students will meaningfully engage in public health areas such as immigration advocacy, women’s rights, youth development, impact assessment, and patients’ rights while serving alongside members of the community. Public health concerns will be addressed and students will have the opportunity to analyze local governance challenges and barriers to inclusive and effective community development. In addition, students will learn about British society and how local government functions, exploring development challenges in a unique service context. London, like countless cities around the world, faces critical community issues that must be assessed in new and dynamic ways. These include high rates of poverty, the implications of immigration, and constantly evolving educational challenges. Vanderbilt students studying medicine, health, and society; public policy; social work; human and organizational development; psychology; political science; education; sociology; and associated fields are encouraged to apply.

Students will serve with partner agencies four days per week. These agencies will be determined based upon community need and consideration will be given during the matching process to each student’s background, interests, field of expertise, and personal goals. The cohort will further engage in educational and cultural enrichment activities one day per week. Last summer,  activities included a private session with Stephen Timms MP in the House of Commons, a meeting with the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, a collaboration with Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre, and a visit to Stepney City Farm. Students are expected to participate in weekly group reflection sessions, write weekly blog entries, and meet periodically with the site leader 1:1.

The program fee includes accommodation, food, in-country transportation, British cell phone, several restaurant meals, Vanderbilt health insurance, and all program-related expenses. Students will stay in single, dormitory-style rooms with private bathrooms. Cooking and eating will be done communally in a shared kitchen/lounge. Click the pdf to see more information on accommodations.

London Phases

London Program Highlight

London Pre-Service Immersion 

  1. Connect with your cohort and participate in pre-trip service opportunities.
  2. Attend lectures by experts in service-learning, international development, British history and social justice.
  3. Engage with pre-service curriculum that provides a foundational knowledge about the community you will be serving.

London Service Immersion 

  1. Reflect on your service and develop critical thinking skills around systemic inequality and injustices
  2. Immerse yourself, serving 25 or more hours alongside our community partners.
  3. Arrive in London, meet our community partners, and become oriented to the community, the culture and the service experience.

London Post-Service Immersion 

  1. Return to Vanderbilt and serve our Nashville community by engaging in similar issues areas with local partners.
  2. Reunite and reflect on the transformative impact the service immersion has had on your perspective of global citizenship at the OACS Global Service Immersion Dinner

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop interpersonal skills in conflict resolution and group decision-making

  • Analyze the role of international service in the context of identifying and challenging systemic barriers to equality and inclusiveness

  • Encourage critical thinking through examining deep-rooted issues related to equity and justice

  • Develop the ability to serve the needs of others through intentional observation and active listening to a community’s self-identified needs

  • Recognize ones own potential to affect meaningful community change while maintaining a humble appreciation of the challenges of impact

  • Develop a strategic action plan for personal and professional development that demonstrates a commitment to human dignity and global citizenship through synthesizing knowledge obtained throughout the service learning experience

  • Understand and value diverse backgrounds and perspectives

  • Critically reflect on the interconnectedness of communities worldwide through challenging assumptions and considering alternative perspectives

  • Develop the ability to compare and contrast the health care systems of the United Kingdom and the United States, focusing critically on the strengths and weaknesses of both

  • Evaluate the role of economic, cultural, and linguistic barriers to adequate health care and east London 

Community Partners

The following organizations partnered with OACS in 2016. It is hoped that these partnerships will continue in 2017, as sustainability and long-term relationship building is of paramount importance when considering ethical international service. Partnerships will be solidified in the spring, and student placements will be based on community need and resources. Students should click on the following links to get a sense of our community partners. Students should also read the blog entries of previous participants to learn about their service. Please note that placements with particular organizations cannot be guaranteed at the point of application. However, every effort will be made to match student preferences satisfactorily. Consultations with the site leader are required to make this determination. Click the photos below to be directed to Newham London, Limehouse Project, Hackey CVS, Spotlight or Social Action for Health.






Seminar Series

All students selected to participate in the London service-learning program are required to attend seven seminars during the spring semester, beginning with a project during the MLK Weekend of Service on Saturday, January 14th. These seminars will occur weekday evenings (day/time still TBD; likely Tuesdays ~ 6:30) and will be facilitated by the site leader, Vanderbilt faculty, and Nashville community partners. Seminars will explore issues pertinent to the service experience and will help facilitate group bonding and cohesion prior to the summer. The curriculum and readings will focus on major themes that will be addressed in London and will help students begin to understand the rich complexities of life in the United Kingdom.

Cohort meets with the Vanderbilt Alumni Chapter in London

Cohort meets with the Vanderbilt Alumni Chapter in London


Applications are due November 15th, 2016

Click here to apply!

Application requirements:

  • Online application
  • Resume
  • Financial aid form, including FAFSA (if applying for financial aid)

Click here to download a PDF of the OACS Financial Aid Application. This form should be completed and submitted along with your FAFSA when you apply for the program. Please note that all students applying for financial aid assistance through OACS must also apply for aid through the Nichols Humanitarian Fund. Nichols applications are also due November 15th.


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Active Citizenship & Service
PMB 356308
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235
(p): 615-343-7878

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