Rebecca Watts Hull is SLS’s new Service Learning and Partnerships Specialist. She has a PhD in History and Sociology of Technology and Science from Georgia Tech. Her research focuses on institutional and social change relating to environment, sustainability, and food systems.
I was fortunate to be part of the Georgia Tech community in 2014 when the emails and news blurbs circulated about an exciting idea for the next Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)—melding a service learning initiative with a robust effort to integrate sustainability into curricula across the six colleges. As an environmental educator and advocate who decided mid-career to become a scholar of social change in the areas of environment and sustainability (by pursuing a PhD here at Tech), the proposed QEP was very exciting to me. I followed the development of the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain with great interest as I prepared for comprehensive exams and I welcomed the opportunity to become involved, in 2017, as a Climate Fellow, and in 2018, as an Instructor, through an SLS Teaching Toolkit grant. In addition to my great interest in the course integration mission of SLS, the community engagement component also aligns with my own priorities and background. Through my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Tanzania and Uganda) and working with communities in Atlanta facing disproportionately high risks from air pollution, I understand the importance, and also the great challenges, of working in partnership with diverse stakeholders toward community sustainability. By providing students with opportunities to explore these opportunities and challenges first-hand, and to learn and practice evidence-based best practices in community engagement, SLS and its faculty and community partners help students learn not just the relevance of their training to society but how they might more effectively use that training to support positive social change. I am very excited to work in partnership with the incredible faculty at Georgia Tech and with our community partners, well established and perhaps not yet imagined, to continue providing our students with rich opportunities to create sustainable communities.