Fair-Trade Learning (FTL) is a framework that guides the development and continuous improvement of community-based programs, such as short term experiences in global health (STEGH), internships, volunteering, service-learning, and practicums.  This framework emphasizes ethics, authentic partnership, financial stewardship, and communication.  Fair-Trade Learning calls for partnerships between academic institutions and host communities that follow the 4 C’s:

  • Caring Credibly

  • Community-driven

  • Capital Conscious

  • Continuously Connecting

In order to appreciate the significance of Fair-Trade Learning (FTL), you have to realize the historical dynamics between those who have been perceived to be  more and less financially resourced in the world as it pertains to study abroad, internationalization and community engagement. These endeavors are housed within a wider ecosystem of engagement between stakeholders with power, privilege, and resource differentials.  Too often those that have greater power and privilege can take advantage of those with less leverage.  This shows up in global health educational engagement when schools, students, faculty, and administrators conduct themselves in a way that drives the agenda of collaborations, doesn’t recognitive the cost (including material and immaterial costs) of hosting, and takes advantage of resource-constrained settings to partake in unethical practices.  

Fair-Trade Learning is a useful framework with a rubric, publications, and professional development tools. CFHI has contributed to the FTL conversation and adopted these principles for over a decade.  Through the utilization of FTL CFHI has continued to evolve partnerships that have multi-directional benefit and leadership, projects that are locally-led, and emphasis on the centrality of ethics and safety during global health engagement.  We have a cohesive global team across 10 countries that shares an understanding of common purpose, theory of change, communication, and much more.

Rubric domains

From 2022-24, CFHI is undertaking a global team initiative to develop a FTL rubric that is specific to CFHI’s programs and approaches. The 13 domains are building blocks of putting FTL into action are:
  • Common Purposes
  • Host Community Program Leadership
  • Rights of the Most Vulnerable
  • Host Community Program Participation 
  • Theory of Change (community)
  • Theory of Change (students)
  • Recruitment & Publications
  • Communication
  • Learning Integration
  • Local Sourcing, Environmental Impacts, Economic Structure
  • Clarity of Commitment and Evaluation of Partnership Success
  • Transparency
  • Partnership not Program
FTL is housed by The Community-Based Global Learning Collaborative.
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