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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU's First Academic Mini-Grants for Service-Learning Support a Diverse Range of Courses

Instructors for eight classes at Old Dominion University have received grants to help incorporate service learning instruction into their courses, part of ODU's ongoing commitment to growing a cross-campus service culture.

The grants were announced this week, and include faculty members from every ODU college, to help sponsor projects such as the development of a community garden shed with the City of Norfolk, and a service learning human services program for teen mothers in Jamaica.

"In this first round of Service Learning Mini-Grants, the diversity of key issues being addressed through classroom learning, local and global collaborations, and real community action is amazing," said Emily Eddins, assistant director for service learning with ODU's Office of Leadership & Student Involvement.

"The opportunity to support service-learning courses that connect academic learning and community action gives me so much pride in my job here."

This new initiative offers financial support for faculty in service-learning. Eight courses were awarded between $500 and $1000 to develop or expand academic service-learning opportunities for ODU students addressing critical community needs for the spring 2015 semester.

The grants were also created to help foster a culture of service within portions of the academic curriculum at ODU, one of the goals Eddins had when hired a year ago as the University's first-ever director of service learning. The first instructional mini-grant award winners are:

Tatyana Lobova, senior lecturer in biological sciences, for the service learning initiative created for two 100-level environmental sciences courses. The 400 students in each course will, in partnership with the City of Norfolk and Norfolk Botanical Garden, help plant and care for native milkweed plants, which serve as habitat for threatened monarch butterfly populations.

Denise Claiborne and Sharon Stull, lecturers in dental hygiene; Maureen Boshier, visiting associate professor and Jim Blando, assistant professor of environmental health; Linda Bennington and Denise Isibel, senior lecturers of nursing, for a community educational forum their classes will organize, focusing on maternal child oral healthcare.

Megan McKittrick, instructor of English, and Daniel Richards, assistant professor of English, for their honors course focusing on crisis communication and climate change, working with ODU's Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute.

Randy Haddock, lecturer of engineering fundamentals, for a project in Engineering Fundamentals 110, Explore Engineering and Technology. Students will design and build solar-powered toolsheds to benefit City of Norfolk community gardens.

Narketta Sparkman, assistant professor of counseling and human services, who will lead a study abroad course in Jamaica, where ODU faculty and students will partner with the University of West Indies-Mona to provide support for pregnant teens in preparing for motherhood and finishing their schooling.

Janice Hawkins and Chris Sump, lecturers of nursing, Deborah Gray, assistant professor of nursing, and Sharon Stull of dental hygiene, are teaming up to incorporate a service learning component in an interprofessional health service global health education program in Guatemala, teaching health science education and providing other health services and community projects in local Guatemalan communities.

Eddie Hill, assistant professor of park, recreation and tourism studies (PRTS), and Jennifer Goff, Ph.D. student in Human Movement Sciences, for two courses in PRTS designed to support CARE Now (Character and Resilience Education Now) a comprehensive in- and after-school program designed to promote math, science, character, and resiliency through positive youth development in Hampton Roads public schools.

Lindsay Usher, assistant professor of PRTS, for her course Communities and Tourism in Nicaragua, a study-abroad course where students will work with Nicaraguan nonprofit Comunidad Connect, to learn about the impacts of surf tourism, volunteer tourism, and other forms of community-based tourism in Nicaraguan communities.

The creation of service-learning courses in every college - along with the creation of a living-learning community for students seeking to dive into service work - is part of a campus-wide initiative aimed at promoting a service culture at ODU.

Last September, Old Dominion University was named to the 2014 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The award marks the third consecutive time the University has been honored for its commitment to community engagement; however, this year the award was issued in the "With Distinction" category.

The honor roll "With Distinction" is given to applicants that "display strong levels of institutional commitment, provide a compelling case for partnerships that produce measurable impact in the community, and have a federal work-study community service percentage of 15 percent or above," according to a program description on the Corporation for National and Community Service's website.

Faculty members, staff and students interested in service learning, and how to incorporate it into academic work, can contact Emily Eddins at 757-683-3065 or eeddins@odu.edu.