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2016-2017 Student Reflection

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Hello readers, my name is Mackenzie Rafferty and for the past academic year, I served as the Communications Assistant for UConn’s Office of Public Engagement. I’m quickly wrapping up my junior year at UConn and reflecting on the experience I had with at Office of Public Engagement this past year. I applied for this position over the summer of 2016, eager for the opportunity to engage in my first professional employment position at UConn.

At UConn, I’m studying both Political Science and Communication. These two areas of focus, when partnered together have aided in giving me a unique and creative voice. This voice, from the beginning of my education experience at UConn, craved an environment to be further curated and refined. The Office of Public Engagement seemed like the perfect match, and I couldn’t have been more correct. At the Office of Public Engagement, I was able to use the skills I learned through my communication courses in a way that furthered some of my very own political agendas and passions.

For those who need a brief refresher, the mission of UConn’s Office of Public Engagement is as follows: “Our mission is to assist in the development of engaged citizens through coordination, advocacy and capacity building for engagement activities.” Taken directly from our website, the mission of the Office of Public Engagement is full of promise for civic engagement and community development. This is accomplished through offering “service learning, engaged scholarship, university-assisted community schools, strategic partnerships, and communities as partners and collaborators.”

This office acts as a facilitative resource for faculty, staff, and students to incorporate this form of education and engagement into their academic journey through research, programs, etc. Together, this office aims to further the University’s impact on local communities with whom it engages, by enabling relationships and fostering long-term, reciprocal partnerships within the community.

Throughout the past two semesters, I’ve had first-hand experience this mission in action. Before my employment here, I had never been exposed to Service Learning at the University of Connecticut. Once exposed, my entire perspective of education and the potential role of the university had changed.

It’s important to add in that one of my classes during the Fall Semester of 2016 was coincidentally a Service Learning course. So, for the first time, I was in a Service Learning course and also working with the very office that made these courses possible in the University. The course I was enrolled in was Constitutional Rights and Liberties with Doctor Kimberly Bergendahl. Our Service Learning Component was to help the Office of Public Engagement hold their annual Constitution Day Celebration. If you’d like to read more about this particular event and how our class pulled it off, check out the article here: http://s.uconn.edu/3p0

This experience allowed for me to garner a better understanding of Service Learning and gather my own unique perspective. I mention this further in the article, but this element of Service Learning really transformed the classroom atmosphere and our student-teacher relationship. When the responsibility was put on us, as students, to curate this event and present it on our own, we were given an entirely new role in the classroom. At that moment, we were no longer strictly students, but collaborators with responsibility with a real, tangible, product to show as our own.

This is simply one example of Service Learning and how it is applied to courses in our University. Service Learning, as I learned this past year, is a discipline of education that can be applied to any area or focus of study. For example, I wrote an article on Dr. John Redden at the University of Connecticut and his Service Learning Science course. What was so amazing about Dr. Redden’s course, was that it partnered with a global-community partner. His partner was Jolly Lux, the founder of Guiding Light Orphans, a non-for profit organization based in Uganda. (My apologies for self-promoting, but this information is too good to keep all to myself). If interested, I urge you check out the article here: http://s.uconn.edu/3p1

Dr. Redden’s example of Service Learning really encapsulated the future potential that Service Learning can have for the University. Redden and his students created a service that reached far beyond the walls of the University of Connecticut; their impact can be felt across borders. Service-Learning doesn’t have to simply impact the local communities (despite that being a very important and beneficial goal), but it can reach far beyond into international and global affairs.

These are just two of an abundance of first-hand examples of Service Learning that I experienced during my time at the Office of Public Engagement. I’m eternally grateful for this position, as it instilled in me a knowledge that I could not have learned inside of a classroom. This knowledge is that there is more than one correct form of teaching. I also learned that education can have an effect far beyond the educator and student. Education has the potential to strengthen relationships outside of the university, create tangible products, and have a lasting charitable impact.

Additionally, Service Learning really transforms the student experience. With Service Learning, students become active “stakeholders” in their education, as often cited by my manager and mentor Julia Yakovich, the director of Service Learning here at the Office of Public Engagement. Yakovich is correct, this form of learning allows for students to take real responsibility and foster a sense of confidence and awareness that is crucial once entering the workforce. Additionally, Service Learning allows for students to create and strengthen bonds with their local community. Once created and strengthened, these bonds foster a potential for students to stay in their local communities post-graduation.

All in all, my experience at the University of Connecticut’s Office of Public Engagement has been extremely formative for me as a student-employee. I hope to take this knowledge and experience with me as I further strengthen my civic and political voice. I know that the Office of Public Engagement will continue to grow and foster community partnerships and student engagement, while also implementing a new, innovative, and vital pedagogy throughout the University.

UConn Cities Collaborative

By Johanna Tiarks

To coincide with the upcoming move of the Hartford Campus to its new Downtown Location, UConn Cities Collaborative has been working to build a platform to aggregate and disseminate information on volunteer and internship positions within Hartford. Launching in fall 2017, this platform will be available at the Office of Public Engagement website. The development of this platform has been a collaborative effort between many community-based organizations within Hartford and UCC. If you are interested in posting a position, please follow this link and fill out the form to publicize an opportunity.

Following the interest expressed after the launch and presentation of the Diversity Training Module in Spring 2017, UCC has been working to develop a classroom-based diversity curriculum for implementation in Service Learning and other courses. The Diversity Training Module was presented at the Eastern Region Campus Compact Conference hosted by New York University in March 2017. During this presentation, the need for an interdisciplinary curriculum to teach diversity in the classroom was a theme voiced by many attendees from the numerous universities represented. Starting in Fall 2017, the diversity curriculum will offer classroom-based instruction on salient issues of inequity occurring as a result of power differentials between groups of people holding minority status and those in positions of privilege. This curriculum will be available as a series of short lectures and discussions that can be utilized in and customized for any class. An implementer training is in development to assist professors who wish to incorporate this diversity curriculum into their course.

If you have any questions about the volunteer and internship platform or the developing diversity curriculum, please contact Johanna deLeyer-Tiarks at citiescollaborative@uconn.edu.

Spring Service Learning Event

By Barbara Jacoby

On Tuesday, April 4th 2017, The Office of Public Engagement held its spring Service Learning event. The focus of this event was to highlight Service Learning pedagogy as a driving economic force for the future of Connecticut. For the event, we were fortunate enough to have Barbara Jacoby as our keynote speaker for the event. Jacoby is the current director of commuter affairs and community service at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In addition to her role at the University of Maryland, Jacoby is also the adviser to the president for America Reads and the editor of the book Service-Learning in Higher Education. Due to her shining credentials, Jacoby is a highly sought after scholar and speaker in connection to Service Learning. As the keynote speaker, Jacoby related her personal experiences with Service Learning to introduce the various positive implications it can have on a community. These positive impacts were far-reaching and impacted the local communities through business growth and economic development. During her speech, she defined Service Learning for the audience. According to Jacoby, Service Learning is “a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities for reflection designed to achieve desired learning outcomes.” She argued that Service Learning “adds depth and breadth to meaning by challenging simplistic conclusions.”  This reflection in Service Learning is all about challenging these conclusions and comparing and examining different perspectives.

She noted, “civic engagement is the mechanism that connects economic development, and education for democratic citizenship… economic development in the higher education context is the philosophy and practice of generating measurable economic returns in communities through university engagement.” She gave examples of various ways in which Service Learning had impacted the economy of their local communities.

She gave an example from a town in rural Tennessee, near East Tennessee State University. The small town’s economy was suffering due to the new interstate, which bypassed the town. Due to the interstate, the town’s main street was no longer the main road. Thus, many of the local businesses suffered and had to close down. One of these local businesses was a theater, which had to shut down due to lack of business. Jacoby segued, “here’s where the reciprocity of Service Learning comes in.” At the same time, the university was also facing budget cuts, both the history and theater department weren’t attracting enough students, and there were rumors of the departments being cut.

In response, a history and theater professor joined together and collaborated to create an interdisciplinary Service Learning course. The course required students to research local history and write plays based on their research. Thus, the students created plays and presented the plays in the main street theater. Jacoby noted, “Eventually, their productions grew large local audiences, and also began to attract tourists.” Jacoby also discussed how the revitalization of the theater was catalyst to the revitalization of Main Street in general; “Main Street has changed and developed because of this service learning class.”

This is Water, and Service Learning

By Garret Zastoupil

This past spring I taught Health and Education in Urban Communities, a one-credit service learning course affiliated with the Husky booksSport program at UConn-Storrs. This course focused on racial inequities in health and education, particularly within the State of Connecticut. I approached my teaching based on my training in higher education and student affairs. As the course progressed, I recognized the salience of one particular human development theory to what my students experienced. Schlossberg’s Transition Theory speaks to transformative life experiences and how individuals experience them: “moving in, moving through, and moving out.” This past semester I was especially attuned to the “moving out” component of the theory.

A number of students shared throughout the semester that this was the first time they’d been challenged tor reflect on their own backgrounds as it related to their racial identities and their intersections with health and education, and I wanted to make sure that our last class would (hopefully) propel them to engagement in these issues in their post-UConn lives. Using theories from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, along with individual action planning, my students shared commitments toward change and how they wanted to stay involved in what they had learned.

Three months after this course ended, I am still struck by the opening activity of class that day. Prior to class students listened to David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College Commencement address, and quotes from the speech were posted around the classroom. Students were asked to examine each quote and stand by the quote that most resonated with them. (If you haven’t listen to, or read the address, I would encourage it). As I watched students move around the room and examine the quotes I noticed a large number of students stand by the following quote:

Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence

In their larger discussion, students shared that this course challenged them to think beyond their own experiences. And while I’d love to give all the credit to myself, wise and skilled instructors before me created much of the content of this course and will continue to offer it.

What I am left with though is both a feeling of concern and hope. Concern that ours students are not receiving the essential tools of liberal education like self-reflection and global understanding fully or early enough in their careers. However, I am hopefully that service learning can be a tool that prepares students for the type of reflection and interrogation needed for today’s world. As individual instructors, we must take every advantage to move students through an experience that gives them the skills that will truly last for a lifetime, and allow them to recognize both their full selves, but also how they exist in the world.

Garret is a graduate of the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s Program in the Neag School of Education. He is currently a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying Civil Society and Community Research.

UConn Student-Run Farm – Service Learning at Center of $300,000 Provost’s Grant Award

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Environmental sustainability combined with commitments to social justice/equity should be global priorities of our day, although unfortunately this isn’t often the case. Arguably, sustainability as an abstract concept is a highly trending topic and one that politicians and scientists often refer to in light of the needs for sustainable food and energy solutions. Nevertheless, when it comes to actual laws, policies and practical solutions that address both sustainability and social justice / equity much less is happening despite the dire need.  This is why the Office of Public engagement, in collaboration with almost a dozen departments at the University of Connecticut, recently entered the conversation. Not only did they engage in discussion, but they also created a prospective plan to combat this global concern.

In the beginning of the Spring 2017 semester, the Office of Public Engagement collaborated with multiple schools, departments, units at the University of Connecticut and proposed a grant to further undergraduate education at the university. The grant was a collaboration between the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources; School of Engineering; College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Office of Public Engagement—Service Learning; Department of Dining Services; Residential Life; Global Affairs—Education Abroad; Facilities Operations and Building Services; First Year Programs and Learning Communities—EcoHouse; and the UConn Spring Valley Student Farm. The project director, as stipulated by the grant proposal, will be Richard Parnas from the Institute of Materials Science.

Taken directly from the grant, a “critical global priority is developing sustainable and equitable food systems that mitigate environmental destruction and climate change.” This project would work “within water use, land use, energy use and ecosystem service constraint.” Planning to take place over the duration of three years, this project requires level one funding. The overall goal of this project would be to create an innovative and constructive demonstration for sustainability within the context of social justice/equity. This project would serve as an education model and prototype for responsible global citizens, which could gather further attention and funding from a variety of public and private sources.

The proposal outlined the prospective sustainability energy projects, “food waste and soil management projects, water conservation projects, an air quality project, a rural semester living/learning program, New England farm-to-table conferences, educational workshops for commercial farms, urban gardeners, university and college student farms/gardens, and innovative student-centered pedagogy.” The courses would be developed in respect of satisfying the Environmental Literacy General Education Requirement for the University and would be offered out of the new Environmental Studies Program, headed by Dr. Carol Atkinson-Palombo.

Additionally, the proposal outlined the planned pairing of alternative residential living and four new service-learning courses. This coupling of living experience and academic courses aims to explore various connections between sustainable food production, local communities and the practices of social justice/equity.

Ultimately, the vision of the proposal is to create a long-lasting model for the future of education. These varied departments have come together in hopes of creating a shift in education and global awareness. “The combination of a diverse student body in the farm environment with the technology demonstration projects outlined provides a powerful programmatic vision of the future.”

The proposal outlined various projected achievements and accomplishments that this project would produce. These perceived achievements are important as they transcend far beyond the walls of UConn, and offer insight to the conversation of sustainability. The hope of this program is to educate students so that they will better comprehend the complexities of social and technical foundations for sustainability. Literacy of these foundations are necessary for anyone on the path towards developing sustainable food systems. Additionally, these courses aspire to instill a sense of confidence and motivation in the students. This hopeful motivation would better equip students who plan to act in “pursuit of public good through research, teaching, partnerships etc.”

Further anticipated outcomes and accomplishments are as follow: development of new environmental literacy course, research and training experience in sustainable and just/equitable food systems, installation and operation of solar photovoltaic system and solar thermal systems, etc.

The proposal stands behind the belief that “interactions of a diverse student body with many community partners in the farm environment with high technology demonstration projects will provide a powerful vision of the future of UConn’s role in creating that future.” Not only does this proposal aim to offer real solutions to a pressing global concern, but this project could lead the way in a new, and innovative type of teaching.

In this alternative pedagogy, students are given the opportunity to become real investors in their own leaning and in their futures. Students, in an academic environment such as this, are allotted with the opportunity to have a tangible impact on their community. This proposal is simply one of many projects pushed forward in the name of Service Learning. More and more, Service Learning courses are reaching the forefront of education and pushing the boundaries for what we recognize as academic learning.

Programs like this are constantly testing the bounds of education; Service Learning shows that education can be taken far beyond the traditional schema of desks and chalkboards. With proposals such as this, students are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a completely alterative and more engaging educational atmosphere. This proposal offers students the chance to live, work, and create together as they tackle the largest global concern of our time-how to create sustainable and yet just and equitable communities, hence societies. In so doing they will help shape a future where students are not only engrossed in the greater community, but creating lasting impacts.  Such a future is one that all academics and engaged citizens can not only hope for, but can in actuality be created with absolute intention.

Faculty and administrators integral to this grant are Drs. Richard Parnas, Ali Bazzi, Kristina Wagstrom, Ioulia Valla from the School of Engineering, Drs. Phoebe Godfrey, Andy Jolly-Ballantine, and Carol Atkinson-Palombo from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Drs. Gerry Berkowitz and Karl Guillard from Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Rich Miller and Sarah Munro from the Office of Environmental Policy, Dennis Pierce from Dining Services, Julia Cartabiano from Spring Valley Student Farm, and Julia Yakovich, Director of Service Learning Initiatives from the Office of Public Engagement.

Connecticut Innovation Nights at the Ballard

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Monday, April 10th, was the first new product showcase for Connecticut Innovation Nights. This event was Connecticut Innovation Nights first event in a projected series of events dedicated to highlighting innovation for local start-ups and entrepreneurs. This event was very promising for Angelina Capalbo, who was inspired by the success of Mass Innovation Nights, out of Massachusetts. Capalbo modeled the structure of the night off of the wildly successful formula of her predecessors in Massachusetts. Ultimately, this event aims to feature and emphasize local businesses and entrepreneurs to boost exposure for these noteworthy locals.

This event, was co-collaborated with our office, the office of Public Engagement and hosted at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. The doors opened at 6:00 pm, and lasted well after 8:00 pm that evening. The Ballard was adorned with its beautiful puppetry displays that highlighted the creative and innovative in the room. In addition, refreshments were offered from Love Art Sushi, Subway, Insomnia Cookies, Gansett Wraps, and Wing Stop.

The event involved ten entrepreneurs, all of whom lined the Ballard with tables, prototypes, and posters to help display their products. The products varied and all found their special niche in the entrepreneurial market. Out of the ten entrepreneurs, four were able to pitch their products on stage in front of an audience. These four were voted on prior to the event, and had the wonderful opportunity to describe their product and tell their unique story in three minutes or less for the event goers.

The first of these products to be pitched was B2 Products. They pitched one of their various products called the Mobility Assistance Sling (MAS). Their slogan, “innovation you can count on,” is highly representative of the nature of their products. They design products that aim to solve problems encountered by Public Safety and Healthcare professionals. Their slings help both patients and providers as acting as lifting aids for patients who are unable to get up and need assistance. Their brochure noted that this sling aims to “reduce back injury through improved lifting ergonomics…safer and more dignified for the patient than improvised lifting aids.” These products are geared mostly towards fire-rescue and EMS agencies, nursing and medical personnel, rehabilitation services. The slings work best for elderly, disabled, and obese patient care where lifting may be problematic for both the patient and provider.The second product to be pitched was the Badger Medical collar by CEO and inventor Timothy Andrew Kussow. The Badger Medical Collar is a bariatric immobilization/extrication collar. Disposable, easy to use, and lightweight, this collar is designed for patients who anatomically cannot fit in the traditional cervical collar. This product is a tear-to-fit product that allows for quick mobilization. As outlined on their brochure, the product “is intended to support cervical spine in a neutral position during transportation, in combination with other cervical and full body immobilization devices.”

Third, Mark Keeley from OBVIA pitched his “superior wind turbine rotor blades & semi-shroud.” Their patented blades are “lightweight, energy efficient, cost effective, environmentally friendly, visually appealing and scalable.” Their team consist of the two Keely brothers who combined have over sixty years of wind energy experience as well as design engineering and finance experience. Their product was the winner and judge’s favorite of the CT Next Entrepreneur Innovation award from last May. Additionally, they were featured in the Hartford Courant’s startup story July 6th, 2016.

Last to present was the company RecordMe, who’s business model is focused around a hassle-free recording which allows for artists to make more of a profit while making and playing their music. Their motto is, “record anything, record anywhere.” Their recording device allows for artists to reserve a box that is built and shipped to them. After the event, the box is shipped back to the company where they mix, master, and distribute the recording to everyone who placed on order—the artists only pay for the recordings they sell. They offer various boxes and ways to purchase, or lease them. They offer home boxes, studio boxes, and professional boxes. Based in Torrington, CT, RecordMe has found a unique niche to the local music scene that also transcends far beyond the CT boarders.

These four products and businesses were simply a fraction of the innovators and products featured at the event. The turnout was promising for the future of Connecticut Innovation Nights. Ultimately, this evening spotlighted the immense potential this event has for Connecticut and local entrepreneurs. These events tap into the power of social media and networking to foster a community of inspired local innovators to connect, pitch their ideas, and bolster a greater following for their businesses and products.

 

Service Learning’s Global Impact: Guiding Light Orphans

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Last semester, I had the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with Jolly Lux, the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Guiding Light Orphans (GLO). GLO was founded in 2014 by Lux and her husband, Kurt. Through charitable donations, GLO aims to provide support to HIV/AIDS orphans and their caretakers in rural Uganda. By providing basic health care and health care training, they hope to implement skills for self-sustainability throughout these villages to break the cycle of hunger and poverty in this region.

Last year, the Office of Public Engagement held a Service Learning Expo that gave Lux and other community partners a platform to speak about their charitable efforts. The Expo was the first step in implementing a community partnership between GLO and UConn. Here, Lux connected with Dr. John Redden from the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology. Upon their meeting, Redden expressed interest in partnering GLO with his science-based writing course, where he planned to create science-based infographics for non-scientists.

Lux recalled her excitement towards this idea, “the education component is key to brining awareness and breaking stigmas.” She discussed how the infographics could help educate villagers to take care of their patients in a useful, beneficial, and safe manner.

Dr. John Redden, in an interview, further explained his relationship with GLO. In regards to his course, he wanted to implement a writing component that focused on “communicating with non-scientists about science… it’s more likely that people have conversations in elevators, and with their friends and families.” Redden hoped for his students to master this type of communication, focusing less on jargon and more on the basic communication of ideas.

Redden realized that as a scientist, it would be difficult to evaluate non-science writing by himself. At this point, he understood his need for a community partner. Roughly two years ago, with interest in Service Learning pedagogy, Redden applied for a Service Learning Faculty Fellowship and was accepted.

Upon his acceptance, Redden noted, “I was able to develop a whole course around service learning. The fellowship gave me the vocabulary to describe the things I wanted to do.” Redden was embarking on a very unique path, as life sciences and service learning are rarely combined at UConn. “It was interesting to pilot a new way of teaching to physiology students,” Redden noted.

Redden also discussed his meeting with Lux at the Expo last year. The idea of a community partner was extremely interesting to him. Additionally, the mission of GLO was “really compelling to me and I knew that it would be for the students also.” Redden noted how the various facets of GLO and their Clinic inspired and pushed their partnership.

According to GLO’s website, they tackle health care in a two-part approach, the first part being their semi-annual medical camps. Held twice a year, these camps offer direct and urgently needed aid to patients. Health screenings, immunizations, and education on disease prevention are just a few examples of the care offered at these camps. These camps serve approximately 4,000 patients in two days with a team of about 100 volunteers.

Due to GLO’s partnership with other health care providers, they’ve acquired medication for a decent cost. For roughly $3,000, they can screen and provide treatment for approximately 4,000 patients. When worked out, that means that care for one patient is roughly $0.75.

The second tier of their two-part approach is their resident Village Health Teams (VHTs). These teams are community-owned and consist of roughly one man or woman per every two villages. These VHTs deliver their health care services year-round and are trained, monitored, and evaluated. They’ve enhanced health care structure of local communities and increased trained leaders and community members. GLO has trained 10 individuals to deliver basic health care services to 26 villages. In addition to this training, GLO has given VHTs bicycles and solar powered lanterns for their traveling.

Redden found this mission extremely compelling, leading him to form his relationship with GLO for his service learning course. “Our specific project,” Redden explained, “was to try to help them [GLO] train their community healthcare workers to better educate community members.” During the interview, Redden displayed materials similar to those that GLO had used to teach their VHTs prior to their partnership. The materials, he pointed out, had factual inaccuracies and stereotypes that he believed could hinder the education process.

“We thought we could basically take this information and put it in a way that is a lot more visually attractive and really to rely on visuals, knowing that most of the people were not English speakers.” His students worked on infographics in various areas. One group worked on creating pamphlets for what to do when someone is having a seizure.

“There’s a huge stigma, people think that they’re possessed by evil spirits. It really fit in with the theme of the course, to try to address a lot of misconceptions that non-scientists have.” This group tried to explain what a seizure was in very simple language. They described causes, what you’re likely to see while someone is having a seizure, and also debunked a lot of misconceptions.

Redden and his class hope to print and send their graphics to GLO so that they can be distributed to community healthcare workers and aid them in their training. Redden is currently looking for a translator to translate the information into Swahili so they can be useful to the villagers as well.

When it comes to the students, Redden hopes that his course “helps them connect and apply the things they’re learning in their coursework better.” This course gives his students an opportunity to practice and implement skills that are developed in the classroom almost immediately afterwards. They don’t have to “wait for this delayed gratification that comes from graduate school or medical school,” Redden added.

Lux, while excited and grateful for the partnership with Dr. Redden, is always looking to connect with other departments within the UConn community. She’s recently spoken with both the School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing. One of her other main needs deals with their clean water initiative, which aims at implementing irrigation to help the villages gain access to clean water. The Office of Public Engagement is working on connecting Lux with the School of Engineering in hopes of fostering a new partnership for this important initiative

While extremely impactful, GLO is a small nonprofit organization, meaning that they are constantly in search of volunteers and fundraising. Lux detailed their need for help, “fundraising for us as a nonprofit has always been a challenge. How do you keep your promises to the people and be able to move forward without funds you need?” Lux noted that they always could use fundraising help, especially from younger voices.

Lux noted that the key to their success was “listening to the people and giving them a voice.” She stressed the importance she placed on asking the community members what their needs were. Lux thought they needed education, but the community members asked for help in health care. Listening to the community members was the key to success for GLO. Humbled by her experiences, Lux is thrilled about her partnership with UConn. “To me,” Lux noted at the end of the interview, “it looks like a win-win scenario for everyone.”

When asked what her advice would be to anyone hoping to dedicate their life to social work, Lux gave a humbled and simple response: “Look around, look around yourself and see the things that are out there and need to be addressed. Go in with an open mind, ask questions and be willing to listen. It’s imperative to listen to what is around you and to the people you’re looking to help.”

For those interested, GLO is always accepting volunteers for events. Lux expressed that even the simple act of talking about GLO with your friends helps them in the long-run, “the more voices, the better, the more people we can reach.” All information regarding volunteering and aid for GLO can be found on their website, www.guidinglightoprhans.org.

CETL Teaching Talks

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) hosts a series of informal discussions aimed at sharing teaching concerns and discussing techniques and strategies with colleagues and CETL staff. Below are two Teaching Talks that will focus on service learning topics.

All UConn instructors—graduate students, TAs, and APIRs, as well as adjunct, tenure-track and tenured faculty—are encouraged to attend.

Please email Stacey Valliere at CETL@uconn.edu (860-486-2686) to register, and contact Suzanne LaFleur if you have questions or would like more information.

Exploring Opportunity through Service Learning

Monday, April 10th, 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. in ROWE 319

Responding to our state legislature’s priorities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development, the University of Connecticut is seeing increasing pressures to help prepare students for an economy that is vibrant and dynamic in these regards. We have found it increasingly difficult to teach such concepts through traditional class methods, as the importance of the lesson is lost in a confusing array of jargon. 

At this session, participants will discuss service learning projects that help develop the entrepreneurial mindset of students while increasing their ability to find and capture opportunities across their lives.  Service learning can play an important role by redefining what an opportunity is, allowing students an interactive community to develop their ideas, and increasing student engagement through relationships with the material on their own terms.  Summary of past learning service programs and methodologies will be combined with discussion on how to create effective boundary conditions for service learning projects that maximize student learning.  Every classroom can benefit from the incorporation of innovation and entrepreneurial mindset into the curriculum with the proper project.

CETL is co-facilitating this session with Dr. David Noble, Co-Executive Director of UConn’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Consortium.

 

UConn Students Bridge Community Reading Programs

By Laurie Wolfley

Taken from Abstract:

“UConnReads Meets “One Book, One Region”: Integrating The New Jim Crow and Just Mercy Spring 2016 saw several UConn Avery Point professors collaborating to integrate two annual book programs— UConnReads and Southeastern Connecticut’s One Book, One Region—across the campus. Both programs took a months-long look at their chosen text, offering book talks and other programming aimed at creating a discourse community around the books’ topics. Avery Point offered film viewings and discussions on campus, as well as panel presentations open to the campus and greater community. Many courses directly integrated the books into their curriculum, and several students and faculty members attended related community events at libraries and campuses around the state. Even UConn Early College Experience classes (offering UConn courses in the high schools) got in on the act. ”


Click graphic to see the full-size PDF:

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Laurie Wolfley is the Senior Faculty Development Specialist at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, an Avery Point Service Learning Facilitator, part of the English Faculty, as well as the ECE Coordinator for American Studies and Maritime Studies at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point.

 

New science writing course aims to make science accessible for all

Dr. Michael Willig gives a lecture at Oak Hall on Tuesday, November 29, about the various dimensions of biodiversity and how factors affect it, and how climate change may change the abundance and distribution of certain species. Dr. Willig is a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn and is also the Director for the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering.  (Akshara Thejawsi/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut will offer a new science writing course designed to instruct undergraduate students of all majors on how to clearly communicate the contents of scientific papers to broad audiences.

“We’re just starting enrollment for [Science Writing for Non-Scientific Audiences EEB 3895],” ecology and evolutionary biology professor Dr. Margaret Rubega said. “Our intent is for the course to be as interdisciplinary as possible.”

According to Rubega, the course, which is taking place during the spring semester, is to teach undergraduate students how to analyze and write about scientific papers for general audiences.

“We want students to learn how to take very technical information and write about it in a clear, concise and maybe even a lively way,” Rubega said.

Another one of the course’s goals is to provide STEM majors with a way to apply and get a product from the information they learn in their STEM courses, according to physiology and neurobiology assistant professor in residence John Redden.

“Both Dr. Rubega and I had an interest in teaching a STEM W class, but looking at these courses for STEM undergrads, we saw they were all technical writing,” Redden said. “The majority of science undergrads won’t be doing technical writing on a daily basis. They’ll need to explain what they know to their mom, their dad [or] their patient.”

Rubega and Redden said in the future they hope to connect Science Writing for Non-Scientific Audiences EEB 3895 with a service learning course Redden is now teaching.

“We want them to be linked together somehow,” Redden said. “We’re still working out the details.”

Graduate-level science writing courses may become affiliated with Science Writing for Non-Scientific Audiences EEB 3895 over time, Rubega said.

“With my colleagues in [ecology and evolutionary biology] and journalism, we received a grant to teach grad students in science communication,” Rubega said. “The grant allows for alumni of the grad program to be TAs for the undergrads.”

According to Redden, making scientific research more accessible to wider audiences will allow scientists and non-scientists to better communicate with one another.

“There’s a huge disconnect between what’s generally accepted as true in the science community and the general population,” Redden said. “Bridging this gap is the responsibility in part of people who understand science. [Scientists] have to put blame on ourselves for being poor teachers and communicators.”

“This new course is great for someone skeptical about key aspects of science. Scientists talk and convince each other about things…I would love to have some folks who feel skeptical about things,” Rubega added.

Further information about Science Writing for Non-Scientific Audiences EEB 3895 may be found in the course catalogue.


Alexandra Retter is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.