Remembering John Lewis - and Gearing Up for Phase 2 Registration

July 27, 2020

Saddened by the loss of an Atlanta and civil rights icon, SLS takes a moment to honor the legacy of John Lewis.  The NYT's obituary is an excellent primer on his life, and we also encourage you to read Ibram Kendi's Atlantic piece on Lewis and the idea of patience.  The Root has a short piece about ideas on how to honor Lewis's legacy. Rep. Lewis was buoyed by the current civil rights movement. Finally, Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning professor Bruce Stiftel wrote this reflection on Leading by Example.  GT students can keep learning about the race and equity issues he fought for his whole life, through SLS Affiliated Courses.  

Serve-Learn-Sustain emphasizes equity in our approach to sustainability.  Many of the courses that are affiliated with us (and some that are not!) can help you develop new perspectives on understanding equity and justice in health, the built environment, history, energy, education, industry, and many other areas where your coursework and requirements may lead you.  As many of you seek to take positive action through educating yourself on issues such as the roots of systemic inequity, why not seize this moment to take a class about race, health, equity and power.  Several courses affiliated with SLS embrace one or all of these themes; great places to discover those courses are in the Social Justice Minor and the Sustainable Cities Minor, to name just two.  But we have created a highlights list below of FALL 2020 COURSES, so take a look!  This list leads off with two courses that aren’t affiliated at this time, but which address themselves specifically to the issue of race in the U.S.  All other courses have been or currently are SLS-affiliated.


Black in America

ENGL 1101

Leah Misemer

This course, part of the Writing and Communication Program, will be confronting some of the underlying issues of Black Lives Matter.


Race and Ethnicity

HTS 3026

Willie Pearson

Nature and significance of dominant/minority relations, including legacies of colonialism and slavery, roots of residential segregation, and effects of race on American politics.


Semester in the City

HTS 2086

Todd Michney

 “Semester in the City” seeks to familiarize students with nearby Westside communities that have historically faced, and continue to face serious sustainability challenges – even as they continue to develop significant strategies for positive change.  Students learn how ecological, social, and economic systems have operated in these neighborhoods and explore how policy and community mobilization approaches might be re-envisioned to improve liveability.  The course is a combination of in-class and hands-on, experiential learning, including in these neighborhoods as well as in local government and nonprofit offices, as well as 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, 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.​

No prerequisites.


VIP: Engineering for Social Innovation


Joyelle Harris

Use engineering design and development skills for solving social problems and meeting social needs. A collection of ongoing projects are selected from corporate and non-profit organizations. All projects aim to improve the lives of the under-privileged domestic population or people at the bottom of pyramid in the developing world. ESI team members can also propose projects that help organizations which are aligned with their passion. Projects include hardware and software development, app development, and engineering education to eradicate social problems like unclean water supplies, starvation and malnutrition in infants and small children, and lack of education for women and girls in the developing world. The output of each project is a novel and innovative product that is designed and created by the VIP team. Issues Involved or Addressed: Research in engineering education will be addressed by designing hardware and software products that support the needs of various organizations. Projects also help examine the social impact of and ethical issues related to engineering and computing technologies. Preferred Interests and Preparation: CmpE, CS, EE, ME, ISyE. Different projects will require different skill sets and interests, some of which are listed: Background or interest in power and energy, surface mount soldering, basic circuits and electronics, Matlab, C or C++, and systems/controls.


Social Entrepreneurship

MGT 4194

Robert Thomas

Social enterprises are dedicated to creating social value by attracting private and public funds to address the challenges of society. They may take the form of a nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid organization. These organizations apply business and market principles in their efforts to solve problems not addressed by the private sector and governments. One of the critical tasks of social enterprises is to grow and scale, as the consequences of poverty, environmental issues, education, and human injustices are global and systemic. Innovations in the field of social enterprises include social capital markets, techniques to measure social impact, and organizational design.



BIOS 2300

Emily Weigel

Ecology is a flipped course where students work on applied problems, including those associated with climate change, invasive species, overexploitation etc. The focus is on the ecological concepts, looking at either sustainability or community, with reference to the other, through units, labs, assignments, and activities.

Pre-requisites include BIOS 1107 or 1108 or AP Biology credit.


This is Fine- Humor, Media, and Climate Change

ENGL 1101

Kent Linthicum

As a Serve-Learn-Sustain affiliated course, this class will identify relationships among ecological, social, and economic systems, with an especially focus on communities and environmental justice. Ultimately, the course will ask, can humor and memes help save the world? Can they inspire action in the face of overwhelming crisis? Or are they just a way for us to feel comfortable as things fall apart as the world we know slouches towards its end? Through all this the class will highlight the forms of WOVEN (written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal) communication as we consider how to communicate climate change in the 21st century. In order to develop and deploy rhetorical knowledge students will compose and design critical analyses, posters, speeches, memes, and other texts. Other graded elements will include project brainstorms, outlines, peer review, and shorter reflections. Ultimately, the course will provide students with opportunities to discuss, practice, and reflect on rhetoric alongside the tools to critique media ecologies of climate change.


Sociology of Medicine and Health

HTS 3086

Jennifer Singh

This course will introduce the sociology of medicine and health (also known as medical sociology or sociology of health and illness), which is a broad field examining the social production of health, wellness, illness and mortality. This sub-discipline of sociology starts from the assumption that we cannot understand the topics of health and illness simply by looking at biological phenomena and medical knowledge. Thus, a main objective of this course is to enable students to describe the social, political, economic, and cultural forces that influence social behavior by exploring health, illness, and health care from a sociological perspective. The course will be designed and instructed around student community engagement with local non-profit organizations that serve social needs directly related to health. This course is open to undergraduate students of all majors. 


Class, Power, and Inequality

HTS 3008

Allen Hyde

In Class, Power, and Inequality, students will explore the causes and consequences of economic inequality in the United States and abroad. In particular, this course will help students understand why inequality between individuals and communities occurs, with major focuses on changes in the economy and social forces like politics, culture, and religion. Further, we pay particular attention to how gender and race/ethnicity shape economic inequality. The goal of the course is for students to understand the structural and individuals factors that create inequality within their own communities and elsewhere and to use this knowledge to imagine socially and economically equitable communities for future living.


Technology and Sustainable Community Development

SLS 3110/ CS 3803

Ellen Zegura and Ruthie Yow

When does technology improve communities? When doesn’t it, and why? How can you improve your chance of having a positive long-term impact on communities? How is designing technology for communities different from designing technology for consumers?  This course will explore the role of technology in the development of sustainable communities, locally and internationally. Through a combination of historical perspective, case studies, community engagement methods and practice, and critical evaluation techniques, students will develop an appreciation for the strengths and limitations of technology in sustainable community development and the skills needed to approach sustainable community issues.  

This course has an SLS designation so students in any major can count it towards free electives.     This course also carries the Georgia Tech-specific Ethics attribute.  Within Computer Science, it is approved for the Ethics requirement, along with CS 4001 and CS 4002.  Contact: Ellen Zegura.


VIP: Building for Equity and Sustainability


Jennifer Hirsch, Iris Tien, Jeremy Brown, Juan Archila, and Justin Biddle

This VIP takes as its main focus Georgia Tech’s new Living Building – the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design – and its efforts to advance social equity as a key part of building and operating a sustainable building. Within the Living Building Challenge (LBC), we focus on improving - and re-defining - the Equity Petal, which currently aims "to transform developments to foster a true, inclusive sense of community that is just and equitable regardless of an individual's background, age, class, race, gender or sexual orientation." The team will also explore equity and resilience in sustainability projects in partner communities in Atlanta and Georgia. Our research team includes GT students, faculty, and staff. This VIP is affiliated with Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS), and we will work with them to collaborate with community and industry partners. We have four initial goals: 1) Incorporate equity as an important objective in engineering and architecture design practices at Georgia Tech; 2) Work closely with the Living Building Equity Champions to fully engage underrepresented students in The Kendeda Building and to use the building to advance the Institute’s diversity and inclusion goals; 3) Co-develop with communities design solutions to increase equity, resilience, and sustainability in the built environment; and 4) Influence the sustainable building sector nationally and internationally to more thoroughly incorporate equity as a goal in their rating systems and programs. Preferred Interests and Preparation: General interest in exploring and practicing sustainability from a holistic perspective, bringing together all seven LBC petals: place, water, energy, health & happiness, equity, materials and beauty. Interest in transdisciplinary, applied research: working across academic disciplines, with practitioners, to understand and develop theory and connect theory to practice - and then use practice to push theory. All majors interested in learning about sustainability and how it plays out in real-world communities, at GT and beyond. Students interested in urban planning. Students interested in working with communities to design engineering systems.


Special Topics: Community Organizing

HTS 3801 A (mini-mester - September 21 - October 23)

Rebecca Watts Hull

Community organizing and mobilization have long been recognized as key to the impact of social movements on society. In a democratic society, an “organized” citizenry is better able to develop, articulate, and assert its shared interests in order to advance equity, accountability, and effectiveness in social institutions. As such, community organizing is an important element of creating sustainable communities. What is community organizing, and what knowledge, skills, and practices help leaders mobilize and organize large numbers of people around a shared idea, concern, or interest? In this short course we will explore different models or frameworks that are widely used to guide community organizing practices in the U.S. Students will practice key organizing skills, including storytelling and “strategizing.” We will examine the role of community organizing in contemporary movements, including Climate Action and Black Lives Matter.

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Tag: cm2020