The Nobis Global Action Model is most successful when the facilitators of the model are proficient in the five concepts, or Nobis Big Ideas, that provide a conceptual framework for thinking about global issues and building them into the service-learning project. These concepts, history, power, relationships, global citizenship and cultural responsiveness, inform classroom activities so that the experiences and knowledge of the community partner are understood through an authentic global lens.


Historical knowledge is necessary for understanding the world in which we live and share with others. History is a collection of various analyses and imaginative interpretations of the human experience that seeks to explain how society has changed over time.

Collective Identity - History provides individuals and communities with a sense of identity through their understanding of a shared past. In this way, history shapes how people identify and interact with one another, often in ways of which we are not aware.

Preparing for the Future - Exposing and questioning differences in interpretations enhances our understanding of the human condition throughout time and therefore better prepares us to imagine and work towards different futures. Learning about the historical context of people, places, and events helps us to understand the immense complexity of our world and provides insights to help imagine possibilities and actively work to solve the problems of the present and future. 



Power, as a social force, is the degree of impact of a person, institution, or system in relation to others’ beliefs, behaviors, or values. Power is not necessarily only defined as ‘power-over’, it is also the capacity to act or to prevent an action. Power has often been defined as something one does, not something one has. Systems of power-over remain in effect only when the oppressed consents, implicitly or explicitly, to the imposed power dynamic. In principle, any person or organization is able to resist the power of others. At times, however, they may feel powerless to resist, fear failure in resisting, or perceive the social, political, economic, personal, and/or emotional cost is too great.

Privilege - Privilege operates on personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels and gives preferential treatment to one individual or group, while withholding from another. Characteristically invisible to those who have it, privileges are unearned assets granted to dominant groups, whether desired or not.

Categories of Difference - Socially constructed systems that stratify dominance or subordination on group members. These systems include gender, race, class, ability, sexual identity, age, religion, and country of origin. Often there are large implications that effect politics, food systems (such as access to clean water), and patterns of violence that stem from these categories of difference.



Central to the mission of the Nobis Project is the empowerment of individuals and communities; accordingly, our approach seeks to develop relationships between individuals, groups, and/or organizations in communities both locally as well as abroad. This criterion is fundamentally about responding to the needs of others, and balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of the group. Strong and diverse relationships develop in students a commitment to the welfare of others and a conviction that all people are of equal worth.

Reciprocity - Only through reciprocal community partnerships, where both parties are set to benefit, can meaningful relationships be achieved and the work of sustainable empowerment begin.



Global citizenship education consists of the development of civic engagement skills and fostering in students an understanding of humanity’s shared fate and social responsibility.

Civic Engagement - Preparing students for globally relevant participation in society, at the local, national, and international levels through teaching them the civic engagement goals of knowledge, skills, values, efficacy, empathy, and commitment.

Shared Fate - Informing students of the global interdependence of humanity and the environment and how these interconnections create consequences on a global scale.

Social Responsibility - Developing in students a sense of mutual obligation and critical understanding of social rights and how to take responsible action that impacts global issues and works towards peace and social change.



A culturally responsive classroom nurtures students’ curiosity and their development of respect for the values and perceptions of others. Students learn to listen to other people’s thoughts, feelings, experiences and perspectives without judgment; and develop a respect for everyone with the idea that everyone has a piece of the truth. The learning environment is established in which conflicting sets of values are processed analytically and with respect for the differences in people and their cultures, identities, and world-views.