This spring, SLS launches its Fellows Program, focused on Smart Cities, Connected Communities (SCCC), with 29 fellows representing all 6 colleges, GTRI, and various other units on campus, and including faculty, research scientists, graduate students, a post doc, and staff.
SLS had a fantastic response to its call for proposals to support courses, ongoing projects, or short-term activities that enhance student learning around our theme of “creating sustainable communities.” We are proud to announce that we have given out 22 awards, to the following faculty, instructors, and staff representing SLS.
Awardees will collaborate with SLS to finalize their course/activity/project plans and will submit deliverables when they conclude. We look forward to sharing some of those out with you via this blog and the website, in the summer and the fall.
As a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature who teaches English at Georgia Tech, I spend a lot of my time remarking on how different my students here are from me and from the students I have previously taught. There are, of course, the stark disciplinary divides: teaching English at Tech requires that I teach my students something about the language, methods, and traditions of the humanities, while I also try to learn—or at least to develop basic proficiency in—those of STEM fields.
With a vision of “green schools for all within this generation,” the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Center for Green Schools (www.centerforgreenschools.org) promotes healthy learning environments locally and globally. In Georgia, the High Performance Healthy Schools program supports that vision through the USGBC-GA Community (http://www.usgbc.org/usgbc-georgia).
My involvement with the Serve-Learn-Sustain community at Georgia Tech led me to reflect about what these words have meant to me at various stages in my life. As a young child growing up in India, I was very fortunate to see my parents’ lived commitment to service. Empathy, respecting others, using our resources and skills to help others in need – it was a way of life. Our neighborhood was a beloved community of families from diverse backgrounds, who shared this way of living– I could not ask for a better place to grow up.
It is Spring of 2015. I sit down at the Liam’s Legacy Symposium, an event designed to celebrate the life and legacy of Liam Rattray. The event features a panel of speakers discussing “What it means to take an asset-based community engagement approach to sustainability." I hear language that revolves around focusing on the strengths of a community rather than its problems. I hear about empowering of individuals rather than over-programming “I’ll do it for you" initiatives. I hear strategies to engage the members of a community rather than tell them what they need. I am being exposed to Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) for the first time, and I am floored. I could not ignore the parallels between ABCD and my “ideal” of a support program for students with intellectual disabilities, who were coming to Georgia Tech through the EXCEL program.
Since Serve-Learn-Sustain officially opened its doors last January, we have been working closely with faculty, staff, students, and partners to define together what it means to “create sustainable communities” and to collaboratively develop programs that will nurture interdisciplinary learning, teaching, and action. One approach we have come up with is to work with different colleges, schools, and programs across campus to develop tailored strategies for SLS engagement that simultaneously promote SLS and the specific unit’s goals and objectives. For this academic year, we have launched this strategies program by partnering with nine units. Next year, we will expand the program to more.
It is truly an honor and a pleasure to return to Georgia Tech this Fall as a CEE alum and a former vice-president of the Georgia Tech African-American Student Union. I have so many fond memories from my days as a student actively involved with student organizations such as AASU, EWB-GT, SGA, ASCE, GTSBE, BGSA, and AABE. I did not realize at the time that my roles in these organizations and external nonprofits would provide much needed training and experience related to working with corporate sponsors, partnership development, planning events, managing diverse teams, and succession planning.
The transition from high school to college is simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. For many students, Georgia Tech is their dream school and they are ready to be a Yellow Jacket and all that that entails. For others, Tech is not their first choice and they hesitate to embrace the white and gold. Regardless of whether they fall on one end of that spectrum or somewhere in between, new students are striving to find a community of friends where they feel a sense of belonging and where they can connect in meaningful ways to campus life.