SOURCE Alumni Newsletter
Reflections from our SOURCE Service-Learning Fellows
This June, we launched our 5th cohort of the SOURCE Service-Learning Faculty and Community Fellows Program. As we prepare our fifth cohort of faculty and community fellows to implement new service-learning projects, we want to take a minute to reflect on the experiences of two of our most recent faculty and community fellows.
Using Service-Learning to Make Science Lively and Fun
Janice Evans, Bloomberg School of Public Health
SOURCE Faculty Fellow
My grandfather had a degree in science education, and wrote a science textbook, called "Modern Science in Our Daily Lives," with co-authors Paul Dull and Charles Mann. With my grandfather's name being Philip Johnson, this book spine listed the authors, "Dull Mann Johnson." Everyone in my family, especially my grandfather, had a good laugh about this, particularly since this was a science textbook – after all, what could be more dull than teaching science!? But in spite of this family tradition (ha!), I have never felt science has to be dull, or that science has to be taught by a dull anybody (man[n] or woman).
It has been a special treat for me to be a faculty member at the Bloomberg School of Public Health for many reasons – and one of the biggest reasons is the amazing students that I get to teach. With these students being so interesting and diverse in their reasons for coming to the BSPH, I have been inspired to keep my teaching lively and relevant. This contributed to my motivation to apply for the SOURCE Faculty Fellows Program, to develop my own service-learning course.
This service-learning course extends from my basic didactic class on reproductive biology. My goal for the students in that didactic class is to walk out with a semblance of "reproductive biology literacy" that will serve whatever purposes they have moving forward in their careers, from public health practitioner to healthcare provider. The service-learning course was a way for students to experience how this reproductive biology literacy could be used in a real-world setting -- and how knowing the biology is just the tip of the iceberg. We all were rapidly thrust into the complexities of reproductive health issues in the real world. Students in the 2015 course were working on reproductive health curricula for three different Baltimore city community-based organizations, with three different clientele – Baltimore City school system middle schoolers, Latino and Hispanic high school age students, and African American out-of-school young adults. Thus, the projects had conceptual overlaps, but also noteworthy differences, which seemed to enrich the learning experiences for the students.
Another value of the course experience was how the lines were blurred between teacher and learner. Really, all of us were learners, and some of the best teachers were the individuals that the course students were interacting with at the community-based organizations where they were working. The best part for me was working with an incredible group of inspired and motivated students, and really, just doing what I could to help them along and otherwise, just try not to screw things up for them! I started thinking of our Monday morning class meetings as more like 'staff meetings,' for students to give me updates on how things were going, and for me to bring in guests to talk about topical issues that the students were facing in their work at the CBOs. Indeed, this service-learning course has been a way to make basic science very far from dull, and instead, much more applicable and real – including in daily life, just as my grandfather's textbook title suggests.
Connecting Community and Academics
Eric Seymour, Esperanza Center
SOURCE Community Fellow
This past year I had the privilege of being selected as a SOURCE Service-Learning Fellow. I am very grateful to Hopkins and to SOURCE for giving me the opportunity to work with such an inspiring group of people. As the Volunteer and Outreach Manager at the Esperanza Center, I was able to learn some very valuable tools for designing service-learning projects that are mutually beneficial to both us as CBOs and the professors of various courses.
This past academic year, I worked with two different professors in the schools of Public Health and Nursing to implement service learning in their curriculum. One of the classes, an Ethnographic Research class taught by Debbie Gioia, was able to conduct interviews with some of the students taking our ESL classes. These interviews shed some light on the barriers that our students face when trying to access our classes.
The second class I worked with this year was a Spanish class in the School of Nursing, taught by Sarah Dutton. These students tutored students in our ESL program and collected anecdotal information about their access to healthcare. These students were able to help our students practice their English, while they were able to practice their Spanish and get to know the community that they aspire to work with one day.
My time with the SOURCE Service Learning Fellows Program was truly invaluable. It gave me the opportunity to learn about service-learning pedagogy and what professors of various courses need to get from their service-learning. More importantly, however, I was able to meet some of the most engaged, dedicated, and inspiring people that I have met in Baltimore. Through my participation in the 2015-2016 cohort I helped to plan a community discussion dinner whose attendees included people from all parts of Baltimore who came together to look for solutions to our city's problems.
Everyone that I have met through SOURCE, from the faculty to the various community partners and stakeholders, have inspired and challenged me in different ways. For that reason and so many more, I look forward to continuing my involvement in SOURCE.