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Westmont Talk to Probe International Service Impact, Value

Cynthia Toms

Cynthia Toms, Ph.D., director of the office of global education, will dissect the debate about the value and impact of young people engaging in international volunteer service in a lecture Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, at 7 p.m. in Hieronymus Lounge at Westmont College’s Kerrwood Hall. 

The Paul C. Wilt Phi Kappa Phi Lecture, “Ethical International Volunteerism and Service: Moral Responsibility or More Harm than Good?” is free and open to the public. 

“Some critics say that volunteering and service-learning does more harm than good," Toms says, “while others believe we are all global citizens and we must participate in international service to make a difference in the world.”

Prior to coming to Westmont, Toms served as assistant director of the Center for Social Concerns at Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame.

A specialist in food systems, Toms is transitioning into a new faculty role in Westmont’s Department of Kinesiology, where she will integrate interests in public health and global studies.

In November 2015, the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement gave her an award for exemplary contributions. 

She is an investigator for the Advancing International Service in Higher Education’s project supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Global Engagement Survey.

She serves on the board of Child Family Health International and on the research committee for globalsl.org, a web-based initiative of scholars amassing evidence-based tools and peer-reviewed research to advance best practices in global learning.

Toms co-edited a book on global education, Transformations at the Edge of the World, a study of cultural immersion pedagogy that includes essays on Westmont’s programs in Mexico and San Francisco.

She co-wrote The Effects of Religious Engagement on College Students’ Affective Outcomes: Differences by Gender and Race in the Journal of Research on Christian Education. 

She was associate director and a faculty member at the Uganda Studies Program, sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and has taught at Peking University and Huija Private College in China.

The Messiah College alumna earned a Master of Science at Boston and spent a year working for the United States Olympic Committee in a performance laboratory. She earned a doctorate at Azusa Pacific, researching community development in Central America.

While at Westmont, Toms has been involved with the Food Security Project on Santa Barbara’s West Side, utilizing students in her Food Systems and Global Health course to research the availability and quality of food in the region.

Scott Craig is the manager of media relations at Westmont College.


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