Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to teach two Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs) at Georgia Tech--one focused on sustainable public health and food security issues (HumaniTech) and another that advances human-wildlife conflict mitigation strategies (Tech4Wildlife). Through both classes I became involved with Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) to help connect my students to other like-minded community members on campus that were working towards a sustainable future. Over the past several semesters I have continued my involvement in SLS as it has provided valuable benefits for my students.
During the Fall 2021 semester, I had the opportunity to participate in a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) led by SLS, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and Kennesaw State University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The FLC focused on incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into courses at Georgia Tech. I was extremely nervous as the only graduate student instructor in this FLC, but I found a supportive community of educators striving to make their teaching spaces more centered around equitable sustainability practices. Participants were from a range of colleges, backgrounds, and positions in their career, and all were willing to provide valuable input that helped me make my teaching more effective for my students.
I have completed CTL’s Tech to Teaching program for graduate students and one of the primary takeaways from this program for me has been the importance of being reflective about my teaching. Part of the FLC was completing an individual assignment/project and I chose to reflect on how I have used the SDGs in the Tech4Wildlife VIP program. I was able to fine-tune my learning objectives and use of the new field of Conservation Technology to leverage the SDGs with undergraduate engineering students in a project-based course. A paper about this course was published in the proceedings of the ASEE SE Regional Conference this week and I hope it serves as a way for other educators to use Conservation Tech to build a sustainable future using the ideas and learning objectives inspired by the SDGs. Graduate students Ben Seleb, Cassie Shriver, and Caroline Greiner collaborated with me to develop this paper showing how we advanced the education of engineering students using conservation technology and the SDGs. The paper also describes the VIP’s campus project that vaccinates local fox populations using an automated feeder. This project is currently run by two undergraduate students in Computer Science, Grace Hansen and Isha Palakurthy.