Applying Fair Trade Learning

Big Question: How can we apply Fair Trade Learning (FTL) to partnerships? 

Time Commitment: 60 minutes

Question for Reflection:

Think about a community-university partnership or international volunteer experience – this could be something you’ve heard of/ read about or your own experiences. Considering the FTL principles, how does that example align with FTL?  

1.) Explicit dual purposes in our work, serving community and serving students simultaneously, and explicitly not privileging students over community.

2.) Community voice and direction — at every step in the process.

3.) Institutional commitment and partnership sustainability — and supporting multidirectional exchange.

4.) Transparency, specifically in respect to economic relationships and transactions.

5.) Environmental sustainability and footprint reduction.

6.) Economic sustainability in terms of effort to manage funding incursions in the receiving community and fund development at the university in a manner that takes a long view of the relationships involved.

7.) Deliberate diversity, intercultural contact, and reflection to systematically encourage intercultural learning and development among participants and community partners.

8.) Global community building — in a sense that we keep one eye always on the question of how this work pushes us into better relationships around the world; how our civil society networks grow into community; how our efforts abroad should inform our actions at home.

9.) Proactive protection of the most vulnerable populations.

Why This Matters:

While FTL originally emerged from practice – practitioners drawing attention to the problems too often present in international volunteering and partnerships – it was published in an academic journal article Fair Trade Learning: Ethical Standards for community-engaged international volunteerism. This outlet drew attention from some, but can also miss other audiences. The FTL rubric and FTL set of queries were developed in an effort to create more practical tools to apply and utilize. 

Diving In, Part 1:

FTL provides both a rubric and a set of queries to explore our partnerships. Both of these tools enable different stakeholder groups in a partnership to consider how they would respond then dialogue together to better understand the multiple perspectives in the partnership. Read through the rubric and queries:

The goal of the rubric is not to evaluate or to grade partnerships – no partnership (nor relationship) is perfect. We are committed to learning, understanding, and working to pursue more ethical partnerships. 

Question for Reflection: Having reviewed the article, the rubric, and the queries, what form/ format do you find more useful? Do you think that other stakeholder groups might respond differently? 

Diving In, Part 2: To date, “numerous institutions and organizations, including Amizade, Dartmouth College, the University of Dayton, the Foundation for Sustainable Development, Haverford College, Northwestern University, Water for Waslala, and many more, have employed FTL principles, rubrics, and queries to guide conversations through stakeholder networks, encouraging shared meaning making, critical review, and commitment to ethical practice” (Hartman, Kiely, Friedrichs, and Boettcher 2018, 128). Below we share several examples of how FTL has been applied to explore or plan partnerships. 

**We are continually working to collect examples of FTL application and would love to hear more about your experiences applying FTL principles in your work experiences. Please use the link to share with us so that we can incorporate into this module/ webpage in order to continue the process of learning together.

Question for Reflection: Considering a partnership or volunteer experience you wrote about already. How could a FTL standard/ query inform or change partnership planning? 

Page completion – outcomes: 

Now that you have completed this page and the readings, videos, and activities within it, you should have strengthened your understanding of: 

  • Different tools that are useful to apply FTL principles (including a rubric and queries) to partnerships
  • How FTL principles can apply to actual partnerships (possibly illuminating concerns) to work to improve partnership planning and decision-making

Please share feedback on this page by taking this 5-question survey. Thank you!


Citation for this page: Reynolds, N., & Al-Ibrahim, B. (2020). How can we apply Fair Trade Learning to partnerships? In E. Hartman (Ed.). Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions. The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative. Retrieved from


Hartman, E., Kiely, R. C., Boettcher, C., & Friedrichs, J. (2018). Community-Based Global Learning: The Theory and Practice of Ethical Engagement at Home and Abroad. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Hartman, E., Paris, C., & Blache-Cohen, B. (2014). Fair Trade Learning: Ethical standards for community-engaged international volunteer tourism. Tourism and Hospitality Research. 14. 108-114. 10.1177/1467358414529443.

Hartman, E. (2015). Fair trade learning: A
framework for ethical global partnerships. In M.A. Larsen, (Ed.), International Service
Learning: Engaging Host Communities. New York: Routledge.

Hartman, E. (2015). Fair Trade Learning Standards – 12 questions. Retrieved May 14, 2020, from