Promote Ethical and Informed Global Service, Win $100, Photo Contest

February 16, 2015

At, we believe intentions matter. And we believe most volunteers intend to do good work for the right reasons. We also believe information matters. And we know that global volunteerism can perpetuate stereotypes, harm children, and even cause physical injuries through inappropriate health interventions.

We bring good intentions into tough contrast with challenging information, so that we can all work together to align intentions, ideals, and actions.

It is in this spirit that we invite entries to our first Global Service & Ethical Photography Contest.

Anyone who is interested and would like to engage in ethical photography can enter. Entrance is easy, promotes discussion on ethical service and photography, and makes you eligible for one of three $100 prizes.

Entrants should review the following blog posts or policy briefs to enhance their understanding of ethical photography, which draws on the leadership of several global NGOs and individual trail blazers in ethical global service and development partnership.

Entering the Contest – Overview

The process of entry is simple- All that is required is a (free) Cowbird or Instagram account, where you will upload the appropriate photo, and share no more than a paragraph-length reflection on how it connects to the categories of:

  1. Mutual learning – Does the photo show people learning together, from one another?
  2. Crosscultural cooperation – Does the photo show cooperation across cultural differences?
  3. New possibilities – Does the photo show people creating, imagining, and/or making new possibilities together?

Photos should be posted to Cowbird or Instagram and tagged with #globalservice and #ethicalphotography, along with the category for which you are entering, e.g. #mutuallearning, #crossculturalcooperation, or #newpossibilities.

Six steps to participate in the contest:

  1. Get a free Instagram or account (for Instagram, follow the rules here)
  2. Take a photo
  3. Upload your photo to Cowbird
  4. Underneath “data” (top right) tag it with “globalservice”, “ethicalphotography”, and the appropriate entry category:
    1. #crossculturalcooperation
    2. #mutuallearning
    3. #newpossibilities
  5. In the text area, share a brief reflection on how the photo meets the category (no more than a paragraph)
  6. Increase your odds of winning by sharing it and tagging @buildingbetterw on Twitter or on Facebook at

The contest begins immediately. The first round of judging will occur April 17. While extent of social media attention will be a component in arriving at ten finalists in each category, judging of finalists will be conducted by an esteemed international judging panel (below). One round of prizes will be awarded in late April / early May. A second round of judging will begin August 21, with prizes awarded in early September. Following each round of judging, $100 prizes will be available in each of the three categories, along with recognition of the photographer. Participants will be notified via the comment string in Cowbird.

Remember – Anyone can enter this is meant to explicitly recognize that anyone can participate in cooperation across cultures, and anyone can tell a story about that cooperation.

Along with this extraordinary group of volunteer judges, we look forward to seeing your photographs and hearing your stories.

Global Service & Ethical Photography Contest Judges Panel

Will Bynum, National Capital Consortium Family Medicine Residency, Medical Students for Burn Care International

Matthew Clausen, Vice President for Partnerships and Leadership Programs, Partners of the Americas, Chair Emeritus, Building Bridges Coalition

Lizzie Downes, Freelance Development Educator

Timothy K. Eatman, Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Syracuse University and Director for Research for Imagining America

Myra Gordon, Associate Provost for Diversity, Kansas State University

Rachel Helwig, Assistant Dean, International & Off Campus Study, Franklin and Marshall College

Meredith Hutchison, Program Manager and Photographer, Vision not Victim Project, International Rescue Committee

Jennifer Lentfer, How Matters, Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog and a lecturer at Georgetown’s Center for Social Impact Communication

Neil A. Levine, Director, Center of Excellence for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, U.S. Agency for International Development

Florence Martin, Director, Better Care Network

Janice McMillan, Senior Lecturer, Convener, University of Cape Town Global Citizenship Programme

Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott, Uncornered Market

Daniela Papi, Deputy Director, Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, University of Oxford

Jill Piacitelli, Co-Executive Director, Break Away

Noelle Sullivan, Lecturer, Global Health Studies & Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University

Eric E. Sung, Associate Professor of Photography, Providence College

Mara Tissera, RELAF

Cynthia Toms, Director of Global Education, Westmont College

Kate VanDeveld, Project to End Human Trafficking and WhyWhisper Collective

Stay tuned by signing up for email updates on the right, or following us on Twitter or Facebook. is supported by a network of universities and has recently received support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

This initiative is therefore made possible in part through the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation, which is dedicated to encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership. The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.

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