The University of Georgia's Office of Service-Learning selected Kevin Burke, an associate professor in the department of language and literacy education, and Sonia Janis, a clinical associate professor in the department of educational theory and practice, to participate in a yearlong Service-Learning Fellows program.
The program provides faculty members from a range of disciplines an opportunity to integrate academic service-learning into their teaching. In addition to receiving an award of up to $2,500, the Fellows meet regularly throughout the academic year for informative seminars that will help them develop their own proposed service-learning projects.
Burke plans to develop service-learning coursework that supports youth-based programming for the new Parkview Community Center partnership with the Athens Housing Authority. He hopes to create regular programming that not only supports literacy and community-based research, but also holistic care networks that help people in need across Athens.
"As a Fellow, I'm fortunate to be in the room with people who have worked in the field of service-learning for years, who also know how to navigate the University and community relationships that are extant, so we're not reinventing the wheel," said Burke. "It's also a space to have frank conversation around the underlying principles of the work, but especially for thinking through potential difficulties and opportunities in the work."
Janis and Jennifer George, a lecturer in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, are creating a new, interdisciplinary study-abroad program focused on community and school engagement of refugee children and families in several European countries.
The program's preliminary course will ground students overseas in service-learning concepts and practices; introduce understandings associated with supporting family, communities and schools in international contexts; and facilitate service-learning projects students will implement overseas.
"I think service-learning increases understanding and practice with critical concepts that are often 'unteachable' in the field of education," said Janis. "I want my students to be empathic, compassionate and patient. I also want them to have an academic and intellectual understanding that is robust and sophisticated, while engaging fully in the ideas that shape a course."
The Service-Learning Fellows Program is open to all full-time UGA faculty members including academic tenure track, academic professionals, public service faculty, lecturers, medical school and clinical faculty members with an interest in service-learning.