International Volunteering as a Workplace Learning Opportunity, Fifth Session


22 January, 10.00 CET, online

Volunteering in general has been long seen as vital component of democratic societies, namely of the social capital which is deemed of utter importance for the cohesion of the society as such. Numerous researches show the interconnection of volunteering activities with a healthy social capital of the society, therefore bringing the volunteering into the limelight in the context of social cohesion.

Various policies have targeted the social cohesion as such, and in this context, there have also been endeavours to systematically develop the area of volunteering. These endeavours have been pursued on both national and international levels. On the national levels, we have seen development of national volunteering schemes around Europe (France, Italy, or UK, to name just a few examples) which allow young people to spend a certain period of their lives volunteering in a formally set volunteering system.

At the same time, international volunteering schemes enabling young people opportunities to spend the volunteering period in different cultural setting and therefore contributing to social cohesion on transnational, European, or even global levels, have been developed. United Nations Volunteers have engaged in environmental and other issues throughout the globe; while EU volunteering scheme European Voluntary Service (EVS) has been implemented since 1996 and enables young people to get engaged on a voluntary basis across Europe. Apart from the social cohesion angle, volunteering started to be seen also as a learning opportunity; such approach coming hand in hand with the attempts to recognize the results of the non-formal learning. Especially the EVS, partially thanks to its scale, and partially thanks to its rather unique focus on Europe, was repeatedly assessed with regard to various areas of interest. As time passed, evidence began piling up concerning the competence development of young volunteers engaged in the EVS scheme. This, in turn, suggests that the time is ripe to stress the individual level of the volunteering as well as the level of organizations.

Since the international volunteering is obviously a learning opportunity for an individual, we should be also paying attention to the learning situation as such. The international volunteering schemes can be, in my view, also seen as opportunities for learning at the workplace. In this context, the concept of communities of practice can be applied to underscore the specifics of the learning situations occurring in the formalized volunteering experiences, such EVS mobility periods. Lecture examines the roots of volunteering and international volunteering initiatives and explores evidence on learning within these contexts.

This fifth Session within the ESRALE course of Lectures will start on the 22. 01.2016 at 10:00 (CET).

Direct Link to the online Course:
(You need to register for an free OLAT account)

This lecture will be provided by Mgr. Ondřej Bárta, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Mgr. Ondřej Bárta is a social research and evaluation freelance professional with a professional focus mainly on young people, non-formal learning, and volunteering. He has worked on numerous research project and evaluations on both national and international levels, including RAY international research network projects (, or youth policy evaluations (e.g. He is, at the moment, also engaged with ESRALE and EDiTE projects on behalf of Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, where he also pursues his Ph.D. Web:

If there are any questions, get in touch with Mario Ganz at the TU Kaiserslautern: [email protected]