Voluntourism and Socially Responsible Design in Conflict

  • Gavin MellesEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 134)


Volunteering is a popular way for global travelers, including university students, seeking to make a difference to experience development. Volunteer tourism in design and architecture engaging university students, employs a mixed rhetoric of cultural exchange, learning and sustainable development. Socially responsible architecture and design principles focus on social impact through appropriate, sustainable and participatory design in development contexts. Recent criticism of voluntourism in development contexts questions the general motives and impact of such initiatives although few studies focus on socially responsible design. This study evaluates a recent covert research case study in Maharashtra against sustainable design principles. I contrast the conditions for meaningful socially responsible design collaborations in study exchange contexts. Employing multiple publicly available sources, e.g., documentary, site plans, project reports and a field visit to a site in 2018 I examine the gap between voluntourism rhetoric and socially responsible design.


Volunteer tourism Rural development Sustainable livelihoods Socially responsible design 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swinburne UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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