Affiliated Course: HTS 2803: Semester in the City
Professor: Todd Michney, School of History and Sociology (WINNER of the 2018 SLS Excellence in Community-Engaged Sustainability Teaching Award)
Partner: Grove Park Foundation
SLS Priority Issue: Equitable and Sustainable Development
Project & Course Description: “Semester in the City” is a combination of in-class and hands-on, experiential learning, offering students the opportunity to engage with local neighborhoods as well as local government and nonprofit offices, and in-town libraries and archives. Students look at nearby areas like English Avenue and Vine City from a variety of perspectives – historical, social, political, economic, and environmental, among others. By collaborating with organized neighborhood residents through course partner the Grove Park Foundation, students strengthen these communities’ ties to Georgia Tech and in the process of engagement, promote sustainability as a means to potentially transform civic life and values in the Atlanta metro area.
Student Comment about Course Impact: “We were not saving anyone. We were simply aligning ourselves WITH the community, engaging in roles they are currently doing themselves. . . . This is a crucial concept I take with me in my career from volunteer work to public involvement for projects.”
Affiliated Course: EAS 4221: Environmental Geochemistry Lab
Professor: Jennifer Glass, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Partner: West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
SLS Priority Issue: Green Infrastructure, Water, and Citizen Science
Project & Course Description: Environmental Geochemistry Lab integrates the perspectives of local scholars and community members, such as the board chair of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), residents of West Atlanta, and the outreach professionals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Students build both technical and collaborative skills—those core to successful “science communication”—by working with diverse partners to explore the intersections between environment, society, and economy. The lab class’s stream testing is sited in West Atlanta and the Proctor Creek watershed so that students can connect the concepts of environmental racism and justice to the watershed “in Tech’s backyard.”
Student Comment on Course Impact: “I had never experienced a lab where it felt like the topics we were learning might make a difference to people we had met. The ability to get the story of the community from someone who had lived in the area, and had seen all the contamination, brought home the importance of what we were learning. At the end of the lab, we had the opportunity to present our findings to the community and saw first-hand how scientific language can either engage community members or distance them from the science.”
Affiliated Program: Serve-Learn-Sustain in Spain
Professor: Kelly Comfort, School of Modern Languages
Partner: Ecocampus Granada and of Idea Servicios Educativos, Culturales y Ambientales
Course/Program Description: The Serve-Learn-Sustain in Spain program is offered each spring semester by the School of Modern Languages. The program offers 12 to 15 credits of upper-division Spanish toward the Spanish certificate (12 credits) or toward a Spanish minor (15 credits) in just four months abroad. Both SPAN 4156 and SPAN 4157 state as their aim the task of “creating sustainable communities.” Through service-learning projects, cultural and linguistic immersion activities, student-organized roundtable discussions with community partners, and field-based needs-assessment projects, students learn how to integrate themselves into the local culture, understand the diverse communities in which they serve, and gain intercultural competence and place-based perspective in addressing challenges.
Student Comment on Program Impact: “We were able to tour greenhouses and taste fresh vegetables, walk through the largest solar research facility in Spain, tour a smart city, dive into Sustainable Ecotourism with an overnight stay in a cave hotel, and work with ECOCAMPUS to diversify the local insect and bird populations! The hands-on interactions with the local and regional communities provided via this SLS program was incredible! I feel as if I know the city of Granada as well as I know Atlanta (and I grew up here!).”
Affiliated Course: MGT 4803: Business Decisions for Shared Value
Professor: Ravi Subramanian, Scheller College of Business
Partner: Garry Harris, Center for Sustainable Communities
SLS Priority Issue: Social Innovation
Course & Project Description: At the heart of the concept of “business sustainability and shared value” are interconnections among the economic, environmental, and societal dimensions of business performance. This course uses the 2017 World Economic Forum Global Risks Report and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as frameworks to establish the role of fundamental human needs (food, water, shelter, energy, wages, and community) in shaping long-term business value and overall economic progress. The course partner is the Center for Sustainable Communities and EcoDistricts Hampton Roads. Students undertake hands-on project work with EcoDistricts Hampton Roads, focusing on themes of economic development, small business cultivation, and local health and wellness.
Partner Comment on Students’ Impact: “What an exceptional pleasure it has been to engage in meaningful projects with these phenomenal young minds...their focus and thorough investigation and subsequent design and development of useful outcomes will directly benefit thousands of residents and potentially raise the quality of life in the [Hampton Roads EcoDistrict] for generations to come."