By Lane Stafford
Launched in 2007, the Faculty Fellows in Service Learning Program is The University of Alabama’s campus-wide initiative dedicated to helping faculty develop and implement service-learning courses. The program includes a series of workshops and has become a source of inspiration for academic innovators.
Approximately 10 faculty members per year participate in the Faculty Fellows in Service Learning Program, which now has 88 alumni members.
Dr. Chandra Clark, a 2014-2015 Faculty Fellow alumna and telecommunication and film assistant professor, says the workshops were a fantastic place to hear about other instructors’ experiences with service learning. “One thing that was really interesting about the Faculty Fellows program was the ability to share ideas among each other,” she says. “And to also look at different ways to learn from each other.”
Faculty Fellows gather once a month to discuss different aspects of service learning such as curriculum, implementation, reflection, assessment and scholarship, says Teri Henley, coordinator of the program and an advertising and public relations instructor. “Often, faculty don’t realize there are others who are engaged in this type of scholarship and learning,” she says. “The program allows like-minded faculty who value experiential learning opportunities to come together and build on one another’s successes.”
Housed at the UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility, the program is designed to accelerate the work of faculty members who are eager to foster the principles of ethical citizenship, social responsibility and engagement within their students. Workshops cover how to integrate service-learning methodology into courses across disciplines. Fellows receive a modest service-learning-enhancement grant to support course development or the addition of service learning to an existing course, as well as one-on-one assistance during the process. Each faculty member emerges from the program with a completed syllabus and plan of action for his or her new or enhanced course.
Dr. Caroline Parsons, a 2013-2014 Faculty Fellow and instructor and coordinator of internships and field experience for the College of Communication and Information Sciences, explains the impact service-learning courses have on West Alabama communities. “Students’ devotion to service learning creates a ripple effect throughout Tuscaloosa County and its surrounding counties,” she says. “If our University continues to equip students with the knowledge and skills to benefit the community, those students have a lot of power to help others.”
The Faculty Fellows in Service Learning Program has increased course opportunities for students, produced partnerships between the University and communities throughout Alabama and the world and created an entrenched institutional presence for service learning as a vital component of The University of Alabama experience.
During the past two academic years, Faculty Fellows have developed the following courses:
Instructor, Jazz Studies/Music
MUA 167 The Jazz Mindset and its Application in Non-musical Environments brings the creative, innovative, cooperative, collaborative spirit found in jazz music to new areas of study and life. Through lectures, demonstrations by live performers (student and professional ensembles) as well as audio and video recordings, this course focuses on the inner workings of small jazz ensembles, the philosophy of the players as they make music and how these concepts can be applied to areas ranging from leadership and management training to family dynamics and functionality. Two other service-learning courses are also in development: UH 210 Improv in Life (and Work) and UH 210 Leadership Lessons from Jazz.
Assistant Professor, Modern Languages & Classics
SP 488 Immigration in Contemporary Film explores the relationship between immigration, film, culture and society in Spanish-speaking communities through in-depth discussion of representative texts and films, and their historical and political backgrounds. This class is taught as an analytical and interdisciplinary survey of motion pictures as an art form, entertainment industry and communication medium via screenings, lectures and readings about Latin American and Spanish contemporary films. The objective is for students to learn to watch, interpret and compare films portraying historical, social and political issues and challenges related to immigration in Spanish-speaking communities.
Instructor, Capstone College of Nursing
NUR 517 Graduate Independent Study offers students in the Capstone College of Nursing a chance to apply skills learned in the classroom during medical service-learning abroad experiences. The course focuses on reflection and pre-service teaching to prepare students to serve communities abroad. Students participate in an immersive learning program in which they live and provide health care in a culture different from their own. Associations among poverty, community resources and citizens’ health are central to the learning experience.
Through two existing courses, Digital Media Workshop and Digital Community Journalism, the First Amendment Education Service Learning Project expands students’ understanding of the First Amendment and its impact on democratic government. Students examine the historical development of the idea of free expression, explore the legal limitations on expression and examine the relationship between the First Amendment and Alabama governance. They work with the Alabama Press Association and the Alabama Broadcasters Association to cover issues such as Alabama’s Sunshine law, free speech legislation and the Freedom of Information Act. The course gives students a “road map” for understanding the First Amendment and its foundation.
Associate Professor, Metallurgical & Materials Engineering
MTE 491/591 Materials and Technologies for Advanced Energy Systems/Applications brings together important concepts in materials science, chemistry, physics and other engineering fields to help students understand current as well as future energy systems, demands and technologies. The course facilitates information sharing as a way to enable widespread global use of renewable and alternative energy. Students explore the possibility of using wind, photovoltaics/solar power, supercapacitors, fuel cells, geothermal, nuclear, hydro, biomass, biosystems, hydrogen and advanced batteries to meet the power needs of today’s world. The service-learning component of the course requires students to develop novel and low-cost alternative energy systems for use in real-life situations.
Instructor, Telecommunication & Film
TCF 335 New Media provides a unique partnership between local organizations and students with skills in news writing, videography and interactive media. The class gives students the opportunity to pull together all the skills they have learned in past classes to complete comprehensive projects while exploring a possible career option. Students work in groups, and every group collaborates with a specific nonprofit. For each organization, students produce high-quality, multimedia presentations that include a new website, videos, photo essays, public-service announcements, Instagram and Vine photography and videos and a new media-marketing plan.
Instructor, New College
NEW 243 Interdisciplinary Science is based in large part on interdisciplinary scientific exploration through reading and class discussion as well as on interactive, field-based scientific activities. Students engage in independent water-quality monitoring of the Black Warrior River throughout the semester. They gather, organize and analyze findings and share them through the Scientific American Citizen Science program and with local advocacy groups such as Black Warrior Riverkeeper.
Assistant Professor, Communicative Disorders
CD 275 Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism promotes undergraduate research while offering students an in-depth look at specific diagnoses and the speech, language, hearing and swallowing consequences of those diagnoses. Through the quality-enhancement initiatives of The University of Alabama’s Speech and Hearing Center, students participate in a retrospective, descriptive analysis to understand the speech, language, hearing and swallowing needs of individuals served by this West Alabama clinic. Their research helps the center better serve these patients.
Instructor, Human Nutrition & Hospitality Management
NHM 485 Supervised Practice in Dietetics Management and Communications is the culminating rotation in UA’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics. Students learn to play an integral role in the operation of community agencies and see the impact nutrition professionals can make.
Working with Birmingham- and Tuscaloosa-area nonprofits including The Brown House, Children’s Hands-On Museum, Druid City Garden Project, Food Bank of Central Alabama, Temporary Emergency Services and the Good Samaritan Clinic, students have planted vegetables and fruit trees, developed cookbooks, led cooking classes for preschoolers and diabetic patients, created social media campaigns and helped children prepare and taste unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.
Paige Johnson & Michele Montgomery
Assistant Professors, Capstone College of Nursing
NUR 422 Community Health Nursing focuses on the knowledge and skill competencies required for community/public health nursing practice. Educational and clinical experiences are community based, community oriented and population focused. Students operate health-promotion and risk-reduction programs for children in the Tuscaloosa Pre-K initiative and their families. During an intensive clinical experience, students provide health screenings and health education for academically at-risk children and their families. This experience gives nursing students an opportunity to engage in primary prevention while making associations between poverty and scarce resources in communities and the health statuses of children and their caregivers.
Professor, Criminal Justice
SOC 471 Medical Sociology: Health Care Disparity, Poverty and Social Justice addresses patterns of health and illness in modern society. The course covers three fundamental points: how society shapes individual understandings of what it means to be healthy, how people behave when they are ill and how society produces different patterns of health and illness. Students will volunteer with FocusFirst to conduct vision screenings of children at childcare centers in low-income areas.
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
ANT 450 Anthropology is Elementary: Teaching Anthropology in Primary and Secondary Settings introduces college students to applied anthropology by giving them the opportunity to design and teach curriculum to elementary- and middle-school students. As part of partnerships between The University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools – Elementary and Middle and Arcadia Elementary, Anthropology is Elementary trains graduate and undergraduate students while providing a service to the Tuscaloosa community.
Clinical Instructor, Special Education & Multiple Abilities
SPE 300 Survey of Special Education Accommodation Strategies partners students with the Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority’s physical-therapy department, which works with individuals with special needs. The department gives individuals with various disabilities the chance to be involved in competitive sporting events, exercise and community activities. Students help facilitate sporting events and community activities, providing everyone involved with opportunities for social interaction while exposing UA students to individuals with disabilities in a broader community setting.
Instructor, Communication Studies
COM 122 Critical Decision Making explores the theory and practice of basic principles of the decision-making process, providing a general introduction to persuasion, argument and small-group communication. Students utilize group problem-solving skills and roundtable deliberation to help improve environmental conditions in the Black Warrior River. Students volunteer with the Black Warrior Riverkeeper and host a roundtable discussion on the state of the river and its water quality. To prepare for the discussion, students visit the Black Warrior River, research other states’ efforts to protect rivers and write about their findings.
GY 370 Watershed Management Plan Development is an intensive, three-week interim class that requires students to draft a watershed management plan and/or a source water protection plan for a rural water supply or sub-watershed. Students participate in field programs led by professionals from local and state government agencies and nonprofits. These field programs ensure students collect and compile the data necessary to draft working plans. The preparation of watershed management plans is the first step in managing water resources. Many rural communities lack the necessary funding and expertise to prepare these documents. Water is humanity’s most critical resource, and students perform essential service by assisting communities in protecting their water supplies.
Xiao “Michelle” Tong
Assistant Professor, Clothing, Textiles & Interior Design
CTD 387 Fashion Marketing seeks to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of marketing activities such as pricing, promotion, branding, packaging and distributing goods and services used in the fashion industry. The service-learning team project enables students to do fieldwork with a local nonprofit organization, providing opportunities to apply marketing theories and concepts learned in the classroom to real-world issues.
Assistant Professor, Capstone College of Nursing
NUR 374 Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing focuses on skills such as therapeutic communication in mental health, inter-professional collaboration, evaluation of outcomes and the application of evidence-based practice models. These skills are designed to provide quality care while improving patients’ mental health and preventing further disability. During a service-learning experience with a clinical partner, students provide interactive learning opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. Initiatives focus on essential life skills such as infection control, hygiene and healthy food choices. Students evaluate the outcomes of all clinical experiences through a reflective journal.
STEPHEN F. BLACK
DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ETHICS & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Stephen Foster Black has directed the UA Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility, which houses the Faculty Fellows in Service Learning Program, since the Center’s founding in 2005.
Grandson of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black, Stephen also is founder and president of Impact Alabama: A Student Service Initiative, the state’s first nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and implementing substantive service-learning projects in coordination with colleges and universities throughout Alabama. In October 2014, Impact Alabama became Impact America, which currently operates in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida.
Black earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Pennsylvania in 1993 before attending Yale Law School, where he graduated in 1997. After three years in private practice, he spent a year as an assistant to the governor of Alabama, researching policy issues and working on economic development projects. In 2008, Black was named one of 10 recipients – out of more than 800 nominations nationwide – of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders Award for creating the FocusFirst vision screening initiative.
Contact Black at email@example.com.
TERI K. HENLEY
FACULTY FELLOWS IN SERVICE-LEARNING COORDINATOR
Teri Henley has more than 30 years’ experience in the academic and nonprofit communications field. Throughout her acade mic career, Henley has provided her students the opportunity to be involved in course-relevant, “real-life” service experiences, in an effort to instill in them an ethic of service and a lifetime commitment to civic participation.
She is adviser for The Capstone Agency, a student-run organization that has implemented numerous award-winning campaigns. Since joining The University of Alabama faculty in 2007, she has worked with more than 50 community partners on service-learning activities. Before joining the UA faculty, Henley spent 15 years at Loyola University New Orleans, where she was associate professor and chair of the Communications Department and director of the Shawn M. Donnelley Center for Nonprofit Communications.
Her work through the Center gave her the opportunity to supervise more than 300 projects for nonprofit clients. She is author of 21 articles and three book chapters in the field of nonprofit communications, which is her research and teaching passion.
Contact Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org.