The City of Atlanta owns ~381 acres in unincorporated DeKalb County – the site of an old prison farm that was built on Indigenous Muscogee land, part of what is now called South River Forest. Surrounded by Black-majority neighborhoods, this land was envisioned as a park for communities – then the City decided to build a new $90M police, fire, and corrections training center.

SLS Signature Partner, The Center for Civic Innovation, created this explainer in order to better understand the history of community participation and engagement in this process to date–– something that is core to our mission of work to ensure that people’s needs and voices are at the center of local decision making. We encourage anyone who wants to share their support or concern for this process to our elected officials.

Here are 10 main… more

nicole kennard

Nicole Kennard is a Materials Science & Engineering major, graduating in May 2017.  She is the President of Engineers for a Sustainable World, Leader of the Hydroponics Project Team, and a student liaison for the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain.

I recently attended Serve-Learn-Sustain’s MLK Day of Service at Friends of Refugees in Clarkston, GA, which is about 20 minutes from Georgia Tech. 60,000 refugees have begun their journeys as new Americans in this area, and Clarkston has even been called “the most diverse square mile in America” by the New York Times Magazine.

Coming into this service day, I didn’t know what to expect, except for a day of hard work—which it was. I helped to build a sidewalk outside the community center, while others worked on cleaning up paths to the school. However, this day was… more

SLS Director Jennifer Hirsch and Service Learning and Partnerships Specialist Ruthie Yow, together with Assessment Manager for Academic Effectiveness Sarah Wu from the Office of Academic Effectiveness, have recently published an article on SLS' approach to integrating community partnerships for sustainability into engineering education in the journal Engineering Studies.

Abstract: Engineers are crucial to solving the world's most pressing challenges, but they cannot do it alone. Creating new and more just systems that support people and planet requires that engineers learn to engage with diverse stakeholders as equal partners. This article shares how the Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) initiative at the Georgia Institute of Technology has been introducing new approaches to problem-solving into engineering and technology-focused education to better prepare students to address the sustainability challenges of our moment, in collaboration with community… more

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continue to become more popular as the field of sustainability becomes more important across every sector and industry.

It’s no surprise, then, that Georgia Tech has incorporated and promoted sustainable development and the SDGs heavily in recent years. It seems that every entity – including local or federal government, businesses, universities, even some of the largest polluters — have begun to champion the idea of sustainability. It’s easy to let the idea of sustainability become a buzzword thrown around. But it’s not, and students shouldn’t overlook the opportunity that engaging the SDGs presents, regardless of their field or interests. 

If the last eight years are indicative of decades to come, one thing is sure:… more

Last fall, SLS Staff and students organized an outing to the Hip-Hop Architecture Exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA).  Mark Lannaman, Graduate Research Assistant with SLS wrote the following reflection about the visit: 

My trip to the Hip-Hop Architecture Exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta was one I will appreciate for a long time. I was able to step through time, from the inception of hip-hop in the Bronx to today, where it continues to transform alongside culture and take on new forms. Admittedly, I hadn’t quite understood the relation between the popular music genre and architecture until I toured the exhibit. The trip taught me, however, that connections can be mad everywhere.

I have an appreciation both for some good R&B and architecture; however, given my lack of technical expertise in either one, I’m not sure I’m the best person to try and relay the connection between sound and place that was presented at the exhibit. What I can say,… more

A recent article published by Scheller College of Business describes how Georgia Tech's strategic plan is creating a new narrative around the idea of Georgia Tech as an "example of inclusive and impactful innovation, a leading research university relentlessly committed to serving the public good, breaking new ground in addressing the biggest local, national, and global challenges of our time, and developing exceptional leaders from all backgrounds ready to produce novel ideas and create actionable solutions."  The article highlights how group of Georgia Tech and community social innovation leaders came together regularly over the last half of 2022 to ponder these questions, come to agreement on shared principles, and draw a roadmap for a burgeoning social innovation ecosystem at Georgia Tech and beyond.  Read the full article HERE.


How do we disseminate knowledge and make it accessible beyond the academic sphere?

University campuses are just one place where scholarship and learning happen, which means that we can turn to sites beyond the classroom to engage students and foster meaningful reflections. Last semester in my FREN 4813 special topics class, “In-Humanity: Cruelty/Literature/Media,” I invited students to visit a museum in Atlanta that aligned with the themes of our course. This exercise in experiential and kinesthetic learning allowed students to gain a deeper understanding of the questions with which we began the course: What is violence and what forms does it take? How do diverse modes of cultural production (literature, poetry, photography, film) respond to various types of violence and their aftermath? Complementing our in-class discussions that responded to assigned readings, films, and podcasts, the museum visit provided a different narrative mode and method through which to process and… more

SLS, in collaboration with Modern Languages, is excited to offer a new “Global at Home” summer program in May and June that will give students the opportunity to learn about and experience the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as they are playing out around the global and here in our own backyard of Atlanta. Taught by Kelly Comfort from Modern Languages and Jennifer Hirsch from SLS, the program will feature case studies from all continents as well as a major service-learning project in collaboration with artist-activist Charmaine Minniefield, applying the SDGs to her New Freedom Project in the King Historic District and historic South-View Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of Charmaine Minnifield

Both courses in the program count towards the… more

A recent article published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution highlights recent data from the United States Census Bureau that shows that Atlanta has the highest income inequality among large U.S. cities. Experts cite Atlanta's "entrenched racial disparities, which took root generations ago."  SLS partner Center for Civic Innovation described this in a recent newsletter as "a glaring picture into the continued tale of two cities." With our focus on equity, justice, and social sustainability, SLS continues to support our partners and communities in Atlanta to help make our city more equitable and sustainable.  Read the full AJC article… more

In 2017, GT Serve-Learn-Sustain co-launched RCE Greater Atlanta – a multi-stakeholder, regional, United Nations-affiliated sustainability education network focused on advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through education and training. The network offers multiple opportunities for students, faculty, and community, government, and business partners to learn and grow together – both professionally and personally – and work towards making the Greater Atlanta region a more equitable and sustainable place.

We are excited to share two upcoming opportunities:

RSVP BY JAN. 16: At this link

Our in-person RCE Quarterly Meetings are making their comeback! Please join us. All our welcome - spread the word!