Who is the PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR in the research study?

Kathleen Nolan is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina (Canada). Her teaching and research focus primarily on mathematics education, curriculum studies, teacher education and critical and culturally responsive pedagogies. That said, Kathleen is also deeply engaged in issues of social justice and equity. Her interest in global citizenship, justice education, and international development have been shaped by many years of education and curriculum work in Grenada, The Gambia, and Malawi, including volunteer work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Volunteer International Christian Service (VICS), Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC), and Development & Peace (D&P). These interests led Kathleen to conduct a review and critique of child sponsorship (published in 2020) and then to initiate this current research study, with the aim of deepening her understanding and critique of child sponsorship while also proposing/promoting alternative actions to child sponsorship.

This study was conducted with the knowledgeable and dedicated support of a research assistant, Paulina Larreátegui. Pauline is currently an Ecuadorian Ph.D. candidate at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy – University of Regina. Her Ph.D. dissertation focuses on transnational advocacy networks supporting Indigenous women environmental defenders in the Americas. Paulina has been involved in research related to global issues such as forced migration, extractivism and Indigenous climate actions in the mentioned region. In 2020, she was awarded the Canadian Queen Elizabeth Scholarship as an incoming advanced scholar.

What was the TITLE of the Research Study?

“Engaging the public in critical and justice-oriented global actions: Moving beyond child sponsorship”

Who is the intended AUDIENCE for the research?

This research study was designed to provide education and resources for anyone who wants to learn how to be a more-informed global citizen! The education and resources coming out of this project will equip the average citizen (including K-12 school and university students) with the necessary knowledge to move beyond CS; that is, to learn about the problematic nature of CS and how, instead, to base one’s globally-focused actions in justice, solidarity, ethical relationships, and international development education. This educational initiative aims to provide the average citizen with the tools to understand why it is necessary to work AGAINST child sponsorship while also working FOR alternatives.

What was the AIM of the Research Study?

The aim of the research study was to cultivate a deeper understanding and critique of child sponsorship and to explore alternative critical and justice-oriented actions for the general public. The education and actions materials in this tackle box are grounded in conceptualizations of justice, solidarity, ethical relationships, international development and global citizenship education. The study was designed to follow up on a literature review and critique published in 2020, where the researcher asked the question of whether CS was “better than nothing”. Given the researcher’s decisive response in that article of “no, it is NOT better than nothing,” this follow-up study provides information and tools to tackle the question: “if not CS, then what?”

Who PARTICIPATED in the Research Study?

Invitations to participate in the research study were extended to approximately 25 people and organizations with a wide range of expertise, experience, and perspectives on the topic of child sponsorship and related areas. In total, 18 people accepted the invitation to participate in the research. Participants ranged in experience from academic researchers in the areas of international development studies, sociology, education, anthropology, and global citizenship education, to directors and coordinators of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Development & Peace, Volunteer International Christian Service (VICS), and KAIROS, to independent consultants and global fundraising managers.

In terms of geographical representation, the research participants joined the project from across the Globe, including Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia, and Switzerland.

Click on the button below for the full list of participants, along with brief biographies (participants choosing to remain anonymous have been assigned a pseudonym and general descriptions of their experience and affiliation).

How was the research study CONDUCTED?

To work toward the aim of the study, research participants were interviewed about their own understanding and experience with child sponsorship (CS); their views on the role played by CS in addressing global poverty and inequity, and in advancing the project of international development; and their own work/research in the area of global citizenship education, justice education, and/or international development. Since the research participants offered diverse perspectives and expertise, the interviews included a core set of questions asked of all participants as well as a number of additional questions specific to each participant’s experience and relationship to the topic of child sponsorship. The interviews ranged in duration from 30 to 90 minutes each, with each interview generating thought-provoking conversations that reflected the complexity of the issue being studied.

The research interviews provided a deep understanding of the issues and offered insights toward promoting new ways of thinking and acting.

These new understandings and insights were then drawn upon to create this tackle box, designed with a goal of moving the average citizen beyond child sponsorship and toward critical and justice-oriented global actions. In other words, the tackle box is full of valuable insights and information that will help YOU better tackle issues of global poverty and inequity.