At this year’s Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon, SLS was thrilled to celebrate Jennifer Singh’s fantastic work through the 2019 SLS Award for Excellence in Community-Engaged Sustainability Teaching. Her application packet reflected the reach and broad resonance of her teaching and testified to how profoundly her students’ trajectories are shaped by their experiences in her courses, particularly "Health Inequalities," and "The Sociology of Medicine and Health." SLS is proud that these are affiliated courses, and we are excited to recognize her partnership work that sets a standard for high-impact community engagement and service learning.
Jen’s student recommenders wrote about the powerful connection she forges between the classroom and the communities just beyond campus. One student recalled, "I became much more aware of the greater Atlanta community and the resources students and faculty alike possessed to make a positive impact beyond the borders of campus. What was particularly striking about Dr. Singh’s course was how integrated classroom concepts could be directly applied within the Atlanta community." The same student later reflected that because of her experience in Jen’s course, she now volunteers regularly in a program that supports Atlanta Public School students, crediting the class with her burgeoning dedication to understanding her city better and cultivating sustainable communities within it. Another student averred that “Dr. Singh challenged us to critically consider the interactions between the social, economic, and ecological elements of sustainability. As a class of social science, pre-med, engineering, and humanities students, we were encouraged to share our disciplinary perspectives and apply our unique expertise to health inequities.”
Such reflections speak to intellectual transformations with broad implications for students’ professional practice and their approaches to supporting community-driven change in the neighborhoods and cities in which they’ll build their lives after Tech. Partners who have worked with Jen laud the way that students in her courses come into their project work "well-informed and sensitive to community needs, and [able to] genuinely validate and include community input." Another course partner offered fulsome praise of her teaching and advocacy, which matters enormously to the partner organization. The partner recommender wrote, "Dr. Singh never leaves us without her personal support, time and dedication. Dr. Singh single handedly builds capacity in such a meaningful way that each student realizes his or her place in a healthier society and as a healthier individual. Her students, through her guidance, find their place as part of something great, the greater society . . . ."
Her application materials demonstrate how the robustness of her collaborations and the creativity of her course design interact with SLS's mission and vision. The courses afford students a "unique opportunity to think beyond reading about social determinants of health by interacting with communities who expose students to authentic experiences of living with inequalities." Course deliverables—such as presentations documenting the multi-partner CPR project students undertook—also showcase an often elusive balance between developing the analytical skills of students and meeting – or exceeding!—the aims articulated by the partner. Finally in her collaborations with faculty in other Colleges, such as Biomedical Engineering, Jen further demonstrates her commitment to creative pedagogy, boundary-breaking transdisciplinarity, and SLS's signature programs, such as Linked Courses in Community Health, where her teaching and scholarship are such a boon to SLS's work.
SLS is grateful for Jen’s leadership by example—and thrilled to continue support the extraordinary teaching this award recognizes.