Integrating service-learning and humanitarian logistics education

Sean P. Goffnett, Omar Keith Helferich, Eric Buschlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose – Humanitarian logistics is critical to providing relief to people in regions affected by hardship and disaster. This study examines literature on humanitarian logistics and service-learning and evaluates the integration of concepts. Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory case study approach was used to understand the integration of service-learning and humanitarian logistics. This was achieved by exploring current literature, piloting courses, providing relief, and documenting factors that facilitate successful service-learning experiences. Findings – Findings from this information-oriented work demonstrate the applicability of service-learning methods in humanitarian logistics education and contributes to current research by addressing urgent global needs. Practical implications – This case has practical relevance for logistics educators, humanitarian agencies, and service-learning leaders as it outlines various challenges and steps to developing a humanitarian logistics course with potential pathways for research. By integrating the theories and principles of service-learning with major logistics and supply-chain management concepts, colleges, and universities in collaboration with relief agencies can facilitate an impactful humanitarian logistics learning experience that provides needed support to disaster response. Originality/value – There is a scarcity of literature that connects humanitarian logistics and service-learning. This case shows that the service-learning movement shares a common purpose with many humanitarian organizations that work to foster citizenship, education, and community well-being. This paper is a first of its kind to study the efforts necessary to create a successful humanitarian logistics course that benefits students, faculty, communities, and institutions through applying service-learning principles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-186
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 21 2013


  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Learning methods
  • Reciprocity
  • Reflection
  • Servant leadership
  • Service-learning
  • Supply chain management


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