Tag Archive for Service Learning

Students Partner with Community Groups for GIS Service Learning Projects

During the fall semester, 17 Wesleyan students collaborated with a community partner to create a geographic information system and conduct data analysis and visualization related to the community partner’s objectives. GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface.

The students, who are enrolled in the service-learning course E&ES 324 Introduction to GIS, presented their semester-long findings at a public presentation Dec. 8.

“By partnering with a local group, the students are not only learning GIS skills, they’re also helping our community,” said the course’s instructor Kim Diver, assistant professor of the practice of earth and environmental sciences.

Students learned about data collection, project management, editing, analysis and cartographic design.

Emily Hart points to a tree during her study with the Middlesex Land Trust.

Annie Flom, Emily Hart, Jess Brennan and Riordan Abrams partnered with the Middlesex Land Trust to analyze the Sumner Brook Corridor for properties that should perhaps be protected. The students reviewed parcels both up and down stream to see how to protect the water corridor, the associated green-way and various ecosystems.

While a previous GIS group has already worked on a project similar to this in Middletown, this group extended their analyses southward to the Durham/Guilford, Conn. boundary. The group created ranked overlays to determine what properties have higher scores based on their size, zoning and proximity to water.

Rosenthal Honored by United Way for Community Leadership

Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, was honored with the Community Leadership Award during the Middlesex United Way Annual Meeting on Jan. 28. 

Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, was honored with the Community Leadership Award during the Middlesex United Way Annual Meeting on Jan. 28. Rosenthal was honored for founding Wesleyan’s Service-Learning Center, focused on connecting faculty to the community through coursework, and for his efforts leveraging university resources and expertise to partner with community organizations to meet community needs.

Local Community Joins Discussion on Indigenous Middletown

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of American studies, spoke at the "Indigenous Middletown: Settler Colonial and Wangunk Tribal History" discussion, which stemmed from her Service Learning course, Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People

At right, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of American studies, speaks at the “Indigenous Middletown: Settler Colonial and Wangunk Tribal History” discussion on Dec. 5. The event stemmed from her Service Learning course, Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People. In the class, students made connections between community-based work, archival research, oral historical work, and select academic studies.

On Dec. 5, Wesleyan students, faculty and the local community gathered for a two-hour discussion on “Indigenous Middletown: Settler Colonial and Wangunk Tribal History.” The event was sponsored by the American Studies Department, the Center for the Americas, and the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of American studies, coordinated the event, which stemmed from her Service Learning course, Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People. The class is in partnership with the Middlesex County Historical Society.

Money and Social Change Class Awards $10K to 4 Local Non-Profits

Students who are enrolled in the Money and Social Change: Innovative Paradigms and Strategies class donated $10,000 to local non-profit organizations on Dec. 7. The award recipients gathered with the students for a group photo following the award ceremony. The class is taught by Joy Anderson ’89, pictured in center.

Students who are enrolled in the Money and Social Change: Innovative Paradigms and Strategies class awarded $10,000 to local non-profit organizations on Dec. 7. The recipients gathered with the students for a group photo following the ceremony. The class is taught by Joy Anderson ’89, pictured at left.

The gift-giving season came early for four non-profit organizations in the local community. On Dec. 7, a class of 10 innovative problem solvers with an interest in philanthropy, awarded $10,000 in grant funds to selected organizations.

As part of the the course Money and Social Change: Innovative Paradigms and Strategies, students spent the fall semester thinking about the role of capital in social change. Students researched the mission statements of 188 organizations in Middlesex County, compared them side by side, and after a final six-hour voting process, whittled their selection to four. The surprise monetary awards, provided to the class by the Learning by Giving Foundation, were presented to the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Gilead Community Services, the Connecticut Library Consortium, and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

“We felt these organizations best fostered sustainable independence and helped to bridge systemic gaps,” said student Gaby Montinola ’17.

Montinola, who is majoring in psychology, minoring in East Asian studies and is pursuing an Education Certificate, enrolled in the class because she was looking for a practical, hands-on course.

Environmental Geochemistry Students Present Research

Students in an Environmental Chemistry class presented their research about Lake Hayward on Dec. 2. From left to right: Zachary Kaufman '16, Nicole DelGaudio '18, Hannah New '16 and Jesse Tarnas '16.

Students in an Environmental Geochemistry class presented their research about Lake Hayward on Dec. 2. From left to right: Zachary Kaufman ’16, Nicole DelGaudio ’18, Hannah New ’16 and Jesse Tarnas ’16.

Students from Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Timothy Ku’s Environmental Geochemistry class presented their findings regarding the geochemical makeup of Lake Hayward in East Haddam, Conn., to almost two dozen members of the Lake Hayward and Wesleyan communities on Dec. 2 in a presentation at the Russell House. The class is part of Wesleyan’s Service Learning Program spearheaded by Rob Rosenthal, director of Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology.

“Working in science, it’s always fulfilling when you have people who care about the information you’re looking at,” said Zachary Kaufman ‘16.

Students did fieldwork on Lake Hayward in East Haddam, Conn.

Students conducted their fieldwork on Lake Hayward in East Haddam, Conn.

During the project, students collected samples and conducted lab work to analyze the lake’s eutrophication, or the process by which bodies of water are made more well-nourished and nutrient rich. While the process occurs naturally in all lakes, human activity can expedite the occurrence and cause ecological impacts and a rise in fish mortality, among other things. Students’ findings showed that there is nothing concerning about Lake Hayward’s current geochemical makeup.

“The students were enthusiastic and engaged,” said Randy Miller, a member of the Lake Hayward community who worked with students and attended the event. “We would do this again in a heartbeat.” (Photos below by Hannah Norman ’16)

Timothy Ku, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Science, introduces the class research.

Timothy Ku, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Science, introduces the class research.

More than a dozen members of the Lake Hayward  and Wesleyan communities watched the presentations.

Almost two dozen members of the Lake Hayward and Wesleyan communities watched the presentations.

Students presented their findings on the water chemistry of Lake Hayward. Left to right: Robert Ramos '16, Rebecca, and Lydia Tierney '16.

Students presented their findings on the water chemistry of Lake Hayward. Left to right: Robert Ramos ’16, Rebecca, and Lydia Tierney ’16.

CS Major Gansley ’15 Hopes to Use Programming Skills to Help with Good Causes

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley '15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. "This is where you're usually find me," she said.

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley ’15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. “This is where you’ll usually find me,” she said.

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A meet Alicia Gansley from the Class of 2015. (Story by Rosy Capron ’14, civic engagement fellow at Wesleyan’s Allbritton Center.)

Q: Alicia, what are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in computer science and I’m also completing the economics minor and Civic Engagement Certificate.

Gansley discusses her recent programming project with Kristie Cruz '15.)

Gansley discusses her recent programming project with Kristie Cruz ’15.)

Q: Last fall, you brought your programming knowledge to COMP 342: Software Engineering, a service-learning course where groups of computer science majors develop special projects for local organizations. Tell us more about your project.

A: My group made a web application for Green Street Teaching and Learning Center to use to sign students up for one of its after school programs. Our system will allow Green Street to collect students’ contact information and course preferences, as well as allow the staff to keep track of this information throughout the semester.

Q: How did the experience of working on a project for an organization differ from working on a project for a typical academic course? Were there unexpected rewards and challenges that came with having a client?

A: It was a real pleasure working closely with Sara MacSorley at Green Street and learning more about their facility and programs. Part of what struck me about working on a project for a client was the fact that you can never just say “90 percent is enough.” We needed to always figure out some way to meet their specifications, which I think pushed the team to really learn and work together.

Wesleyan Honored with Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification

Several Wesleyan faculty, staff and students participate in the Center for Community Partnerships' Center for Prison Education program, helping to enrich the lives of those who are systematically denied access to educational opportunities. The CPE is one way Wesleyan involves itself in the community.

Several Wesleyan faculty, staff and students participate in the Center for Community Partnerships’ Center for Prison Education program, helping to enrich the lives of those who are systematically denied access to educational opportunities. The CPE is one way Wesleyan engages with its local community.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Wesleyan to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

“Wesleyan has always been a place where involvement with the world was important, but in the past decade or two we have truly become a much more ‘engaged university’ in many ways, and that’s good for everyone—students, faculty, staff and our community partners,” said Rob Rosenthal, director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology. “This kind of recognition from our peers across the country reinforces our belief that we’re doing valuable work drawing together community and university.”

GIS Service Learning Class Shares Field Research, Projects with Community

As part of the GIS Service Learning Laboratory course, Katy Hardt '15 researched the wetlands, waterways and critical habitats of the northwest section of Middletown. Hardt and fellow group members John Murchison '16 and Catherine Reilly '15 presented their findings to the Middlesex Land Trust.

As part of the GIS Service Learning Laboratory course, Katy Hardt ’15 researched the wetlands, waterways and critical habitats of the northwest section of Middletown. Hardt and fellow group members John Murchison ’16 and Catherine Reilly ’15 presented their findings to the Middlesex Land Trust.

Five groups of students enrolled in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Service Learning Laboratory course E&ES 324 spent their semester helping local organizations learn more about land parcels in the City of Middletown.

On Dec. 1, the students presented their research to fellow students, faculty, staff, community members and community partners.

Kim Diver, visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, taught the class.

Kim Diver, visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, taught the class.

Kim Diver, visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, taught the class, which included included lessons on geographic information systems (GIS) concepts and spatial data analysis and visualization.

“GIS are powerful tools for organizing, analyzing and displaying spatial data,” Diver explained. “GIS has applications in a wide variety of fields including the natural sciences, public policy, business, humanities or any field that uses spatially distributed information. In this class, students worked to solve local problems in environmental sciences.”

The students worked closely with community partners from the Middlesex Land Trust, Middletown Conservation Commission, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and others to design a GIS, collect and analyze data, and

Foundation Supports Money and Social Change Course

Wesleyan received a $10,000 grant from the Learning by Giving Foundation to support a Service Learning course titled “Money and Social Change: Innovative Paradigms and Strategies” on Sept. 18, 2012. The course is taught by Joy Anderson ’89, visiting assistant professor of public policy.

Students will use the $10,000 grant dollars to allocate to local organizations. The course will culminate in students writing a request for proposals based on the personal theory of change around capital and social change that they will develop throughout the course. Learn more about the class online here.

Winston to Direct Service-Learning Center

Krishna Winston

Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, began serving as Wesleyan’s Service-Learning Center Director on July 1. Suzanne O’Connell, who adeptly led the Center for the past five years, returned to her role as an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, associate professor of environmental studies.

Winston has long been known for her deep commitment to service, on campus and in the greater Middletown community, explains Rob Rosenthal, provost, vice president for Academic Affairs, and the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology. Many years ago, Winston was part of the group of faculty and students who created the Community Research Seminar, the first service-learning course at Wesleyan.

On campus, Winston has served as Campus Fulbright Program Advisor since 1979, and as Coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship since 1993. She also was acting Dean of the College during the 1993-94 academic year, and Dean of the Arts and Humanities from 2007 to 2011.

Off campus, she has been chair, since 1991, of the Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Council, now a city commission. Last year, she became a board member of the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, and she has served on the Independent Day School’s Board of Trustees for 25 years.

As a scholar, Winston has translated over 30 books from German, including works by Günter Grass, Peter Handke, Werner Herzog and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. She is a winner of the Kurt and Helen Wolff Translation Prize and of the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize, having won the latter award twice. Since 2002 she has served on the jury for the Wolff Prize.

Anthropology Class Completes Service Learning Project in Brooklyn

Community members Guido and Tish Ciancotta of GREC (sitting), Laura Hofmann of OUTRAGE, Chris Henderson of St. Nicks Alliance, and Pat Dobosz of GEM, pose with ANTH 289 students and faculty Gillian Goslinga and Jill Sigman at the close of the community ritual.

The students in ANTH 289, “Ritual, Health, and Healing” stepped outside the Wesleyan campus this spring to participate in a service learning project in the North Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint.

According to Assistant Professor of Anthropology Gillian Goslinga—who co-taught the course with Artist-in-Residence Jill Sigman, a North Brooklyn-based performance artist—Greenpoint is a neighborhood facing multiple health, social and environmental challenges. The students in this Creative Campus anthropology course, which is cross-listed with Science in Society and Dance, had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of community organizations, each dedicated to addressing a different issue. This is the first time Goslinga and Sigman have taught the course, which covers topics such as shamanic ritual and traditional medicine, as well as community health and social and environmental justice, and tackles questions of the efficacy of ritual and the traditional ritual/modern medicine dichotomy. The course also has a weekly movement lab, led by Jill Sigman, where students use choreographed movements to explore course concepts.

The service learning project in Greenpoint grew out of Sigman’s artistic work. A multi-media artist and choreographer, Sigman had been commissioned to create the seventh hut in her “Hut Project” by the Arts@Renaissance unit of St. Nicks Alliance, a community organization that works on affordable housing issues in North Brooklyn. For her Hut Project, Sigman builds sculptures, dwellings and stages out of repurposed and found materials, which then become sites for performance and community discussions on the critical issues of garbage, environment and housing. Goslinga says, “The tie-in with the themes of the course was obvious.”

“One of my goals for the course had been to invite students to query default biomedical framings of health and healing, where individual biology tends to be over-privileged even in epidemiological studies, and to broaden thinking about causalities for suffering, extending these to social, historical and environmental traumas, where suffering can also be about loss and shock, forced displacement and discriminatory policy decisions, structural poverty and environmental degradation (often all are related),” she says. “In these contexts, community ritual can be a restorative response.”

Neuroscience and Behavior Capstone Focuses on Service

Mandela Kazi ’12 speaks about "The Human Connectome Project." Plastic model brains are arrayed on the table in front of him.(Photo by David Pesci)

“Let’s pass around the brains, but please be careful,” Jennifer Cheng ’11 says. “They break easily.”

Maryann Platt ’11 and Mandela Kazi ’12 hand out the brains, detailed plastic models with interlocking, removable pieces that allow anyone picking them up to study the organ’s specific areas.

“I don’t think you need to use the stands,” says Janice Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior.  “I think you can just give them the brains.”

The students nod and make a note and return to their presentation, titled “The Human Connectome Project,” which focuses on the brain, connectomes and the new 3-D technology being used to better map both. The presentation is a practice session that the other students in the class, Neuroscience and Behavior (NS&B) 360, watch and then give feedback. The real thing came a few weeks later in front of high school students, an event that the NS&B 360 students have been anticipating all semester.

NS&B 360 is a new offering this year, a combination capstone course – an intense, rigorous experience that is cumulative and requires students to draw on their previous coursework – as well as a service-learning course, which combines active learning with providing a service to the local community.