Expanding the Universe of Obligation

Expanding the Universe of Obligation: Judaism, Justice and Global Responsibility is the core curriculum for AJWS service-learning programs. It serves as the educational foundation for AJWS service-learning experiences and helps deepen and enrich AJWS volunteers' time in the Global South. The participant edition includes Jewish texts and contemporary articles that explore a range of ethical issues related to volunteering in the Global South. The facilitator edition also includes lesson plans, facilitator's notes and annotations on the texts. While the texts and articles in the curriculum are geared to volunteers participating in service-learning programs in the Global South, many can be applied to a more general Jewish social justice context.

AJWS is pleased to make copies of its service-learning curricula available to the public. To request a copy, please email education@ajws.org with your address and specify which curriculum you would like to receive. You will be asked to make a $36 donation ($18 for alumni of AJWS service programs) to cover the cost of shipping.

  • Introduction - The introduction explains the goals and pedagogy of the curriculum.
  • Unit 1: Cross-Cultural Encounters - This unit introduces the concept of culture and helps prepare participants to experience a different culture by deconstructing their own.
  • Unit 2: Telling the Story - This unit invites participants to reflect on the story they will tell about their service-learning experience and to prepare to be responsible actors in that story.
  • Unit 3: The Universe of Obligation - This unit explores how we make decisions to help people and whom we prioritize when making those decisions.
  • Unit 4: What is Poverty? - This unit explores different definitions of poverty as well as the causes and effects of poverty.
  • Unit 5: Beyond Good Intentions - This unit explores the value of service-learning programs and the ways in which we relate to people with less power and privilege than ourselves.
  • Unit 6: The Activist's Toolkit - This unit provides a model for engaging in activism that includes learning, teaching, service, political advocacy, ethical consumption and tzedakah.
  • Appendices and Index – The appendices include a guide to Jewish texts referenced in the curriculum and a collection of frequently cited Jewish social justice texts.