Take-Home Assignment/Project

Community Engagement Preparation and Reflection Tool

This tool provides instructors with two assignments that 1) prepare students to engage with community partners, and 2) allow students to reflect upon their community engagement experience. The two assignments that comprise this tool are tailored to courses in the SLS Community Health Linked Courses track; however, they are available as editable worksheets. This will allow you to adjust the assignment according to the themes of your course. After students have completed the Reflection assignment, use this tool’s Discussion Guide to lead a conversation about what students have learned from their community engagement experience, and how that learning relates to the course goals.

SLS Case Study: Proctor Creek

Proctor Creek runs through northwest Atlanta, extending from I-20 in southwest Atlanta to the Chattahoochee River. An important piece of Atlanta’s natural environment, it also has a long history of neglect and pollution, which has negatively affected its surrounding communities. In this case study, read about this history, as well as new and ongoing development projects in West Atlanta that demand close attention to the Proctor Creek Watershed. Additionally, concepts like Environmental Justice and Citizen Science will provide a lens for thinking about issues related to the creek and how to protect its surrounding communities. 

Urban Heat Islands and the Georgia Tech Climate Network

Extreme heat leads to more deaths in the US than all other natural disasters combined, and as global temperatures rise, so will the dangers. Urban areas, such as Georgia Tech’s campus, are of primary concern because of the urban heat island effect – the phenomenon in which cities are warmer than nearby rural areas.

Georgia Tech needs your help! This tool will teach you more about the urban heat island effect. You’ll identify real-world urban heat islands on the Georgia Tech campus and propose strategies to reduce temperatures at these campus hot spots. We encourage you to send your recommendations to Georgia Tech’s Urban Climate Lab for consideration! 

SLS Case Study: The 1995 Chicago Heat Wave

Are heat waves simply natural disasters over which we have no control? With heat waves set to increase over the coming decades, how can we fight this invisible killer? In this case study, head back to 1995 Chicago, when one of the deadliest heat waves in US history struck the city, killing hundreds. Learn about the demographics that were particularly vulnerable to the heat wave, and how those vulnerabilities made this heat wave (and others like it) not just a natural disaster, but a social one. After reading this case study and an interview transcript with one of the experts on the 1995 Chicago heat wave, turn to the Discussion Questions to think about how social networks and the built environment can protect us during heat waves now and in the future.

SLS Case Study: Maker Culture and Sustainable Transportation (GT Mechanical Engineering)

While recycling is a time-honored tradition of the environmentally-conscious, an equally powerful way to build sustainable communities is by learning to reuse and repair damaged materials. Maker culture, a version of DIY culture that delights in creation and repair, offers a model for sustainability. In this case study, follow the adventures of GT student Buzz as he sets out to repair his bike using two Georgia Tech Maker Spaces: The Starter Bikes bike repair cooperative, and the Invention Studio. By learning how to restore his bike, Buzz empowers himself to live a sustainable life in another important way: as a bike commuter. Read on to consider the intersections of maker culture and sustainable transportation.

This tool was contributed by Arkadeep Kumar, Bob Myers, and Bethany Jacobs.

ReGenesis Case Study: Chemical Safety & Ethics in Relation to Communities

This tool explores the principle that environmental health impacts are a function of the inherent risk multiplied by exposure. In chemical processes we have become better at managing inherent risk, but we also have a significant legacy of mismanagement. One such example occurred in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where local politician Harold Mitchell and community organization ReGenesis tackled the problem of their community's long-term exposure to hazardous waste.

The tool below uses a video of Rep. Mitchell to explain the events in Spartanburg. It explores how local chemical plants mismanaged and deliberately covered up risks, nearly leading to a chemical disaster that they were not equipped to contain. Through this activity, you will explore and discuss how chemical engineering professionals should respond to similar situations, and what responsibilities such professionals have to the communities around them.

The Smart, Sustainable Neighborhood: A Case Study (GT Business)

In this case study, gas and electric utility holding company Southern Company has embarked on an ambitious experiment to learn more about energy usage at a household level, as well as community-scale microgrids. Every minute, sixty-two homes in Reynolds Landing upload appliance level data to Southern Company. How can Southern Company use this vast amount of data to promote energy efficiency? Are microgrids a key to creating a more sustainable and resilient energy future? How can microgrids impact or change traditional power generation business models like those used by Southern Company? Read on to learn more and consider what kinds of experiments you would run if this was your project.

This tool was developed by Bob Myers. 

Co-Curricular Reflection Tool

This tool provides instructors with a focused reflective activity that asks students to make connections between their course and a co-curricular activity. Reflection related to co-curricular activities gives students time and space to critically examine the activity and understand its relevance to their learning in class. Some of the reflection questions require adaptation to suit course objectives.

SLS Case Study: The Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis is one of the most significant instances of environmental injustice in the 21st century.  In this case study, read about the impact of the crisis on the natural world, as well as the residents of Flint, Michigan, and learn about how we can use technology to create a safe, sustainable water system. Serve-Learn-Sustain interprets sustainable communities as integrated systems, wherein nature, technology and society all inform each other. As you read this case study, consider these terms as discrete factors, but also as connected.

This tool was contributed by Bethany Jacobs. 

Learning More About Community Organizations

This presentation tool, based on a lesson created by Yelena Rivera-Vale and Kristina Chatfield for their GT 1000 course, introduces first year students to community organizations working on initiatives in the local Atlanta area. Interviewing members, actively participating in organizational activities, and then reporting on these experiences allows students a chance to not only further explore the ways that Georgia Tech actively partners with community organizations but also offers a chance to see some of the successes produced by these partnerships first-hand.

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