Liberating Service Learning- Reflection from Wisconsin

Greeting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison! My name is Garret Zastoupil, and I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2017 with a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. I began working with UConn’s Office of Public Engagement during my graduate work, and am continuing to work with OPE as I pursue a PhD in Human Ecology: Civil Society and Community Research. My research interests are in the civic purposes of higher education, trying to better understand how we develop an educated citizenry and improve public engagement.

This semester, I’ve been asked to share thoughts about living in both worlds, and I’ve happily agreed to do so! This semester I’m engaged in a seminar course titled “Becoming a Community Engaged Scholar.” I have the privilege of engaging with a group of fellow graduate students to explore what it means to practice community engagement. We began the course by reading “Liberating Service Learning And the Rest of Higher Education Civic Engagement” by Randy Stoecker. The book, and our group, is grappling with the promise and pitfalls of higher education and where our priorities lie. Stoecker (2016) calls for a re-prioritization of civic engagement in higher education, decentering student learning for social change. Which, based both on my training in UConn’s HESA Program and my work with with Public Engagement, has fundamentally challenged my beliefs about this work.

At first, I grappled with the seemingly paradoxical nature of this. How we can prioritize social change over student learning, especially as educational institutions? Yet, this is a false choice: social change or student learning. It can be both, it’s just more challenging, and requires more courage from us as educators, researchers, and community members to get into the mess. At the heart of Stoecker’s book is the idea the sociological concept of “knowledge-power” asserting that our role as academics is to expand who has access the power to create knowledge by including community members into our own knowledge production through our teaching, learning, and research. What then, could triangulating academicians, students, and community members in the knowledge production process mean for social change? That is the question I’ll leave with, because that is where our course is.


Service Learning and Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry Based-Learning

Pedaste, et al., 2015

Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) is a learning philosophy grounded in the Socrative and Deweyan educational theories that centers  “learners constructing knowledge through active investigation” (Jennings, 2010). IBL was born out of science education (see diagram to right), focusing on the scientific method. The specific of this model are: (a) orientation to concepts, (b) conceptualization of main course ideas to generate hypothesis, (c) investigation through the scientific method, (d) development of conclusions, and (e) discussion of findings through communication and reflection (Pedaste, et al., 2015).

Instructors determine the level of structure provided throughout this process and tends to be dependent on the developmental needs of students. Generally, IBL falls into three primary classifications based on the level of structure provided by the instructor: problem-based (least structured, students create inquiry), project-based (moderately-structured, faculty scaffold inquiry), and case-base teaching (most-structured, faculty control inquiry) (Adimoto, Goodyear, Bliuc, & Elli, 2013; Mills & Treagust 2003; Prince & Felder 2007). Structure refers to the level control students have in establishing their inquiry projects. An important feature of inquiry-based learning is that teachers and staff are “co-learners” who engage in instruction and creation of new knowledge through their research on teaching with IBL.

Scholars within the teaching and learning field have critiqued minimally-structured IBL for not recognizing that students are often novices with content, and therefore are unable to cognize both the content and the process of IBL in an effective and efficient manner (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006). Additional critiques of IBL assert that not all students’ learning styles are honored through IBL (Healy Kneale, & Bradbeer, 2005). However, most research and discussion on IBL is focused on its applications within the K-12 education system, making both the relevance and critiques limited within the context of higher education.

Inquiry Based Learning in Higher Education

Aditomo et al. (2013) identified eight primary forms of Inquiry Based Learning in Higher Education that vary along dimensions of both research applicability and practice/content orientation. The eight forms identified are: role playing, enactment of practice, applied research, simulated applied research, discussion-based inquiry, lecture-based inquiry, simplified research, and scholarly research. The focus on the research process and scholarly projects noted above aligns with the larger goals of higher education, to both create new knowledge and prepare students for lifelong inquiry (Sproken-Smith, Matthews, & Angelo, 2007). Brew (2012) documented the need for instructing faculty to strengthen the links between teaching and scholarship by using an integrative model that has striking similarities to Inquiry Based Learning, showing the potential for IBL to serve as an effective to blend instruction and research.  Implementation of this synergy within higher education occurs on various scales, with  individual class projects as the granular level to entire institutional cultures such as Hampshire College (Justice, Rice, Roy, Hudspith, & Jenkins, 2009).

The United States, the movement toward integrated teaching and learning came into the national spotlight with both “Scholarship Reconsidered” (Boyer, 1990) and The Boyer Commission’s “Reinventing Undergraduate Education” (1998). In the latter publication, Inquiry Based Learning is emphasized numerous times through curricular recommendations focused on Research-Based Learning, Inquiry Based First Year Experiences, Capstone Experiences, and a general reprioritization synergy between teaching and research within the faculty reward systems. Specific studies of Inquiry Based Learning in Higher Education are minimal, with most published scholarship focusing on case studies with little empirical data.

Service Learning as IBL

Absent from nearly literature on Inquiry Based Learning is the alignment between IBL and service learning. Service Learning is defined as “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities” (The Carnegie Foundation). Service learning is based on Dewyan philosophies of education, with a learning process grounded in Kolb’s model of experiential learning. Scholars have identified three primary forms of service learning: direct service learning, indirect service learning, and advocacy based service learning (Furco, 1996). In direct service learning, students are placed into community sites and come in contact with people and service, whereas indirect service learning involves less contact with community members and service is often performed through full or partial research projects. Advocacy/Civic Action service learning is indirect and action-oriented, often with an emphasis on changing public policy or educating the general public or specific stakeholders around a community-partner identified issue.

Based on the definition of Inquiry Based Learning established above, certain features of service learning must be included for Service Learning to fall within Inquiry Based Learning. The most ambiguous form of service learning, Direct Service Learning, may not be inclusive of the investigatory nature of IBL. While direct service activities such as office support at a non-profit provides a rich learning environment, if the service experience is not grounded in exploration of academic questions created or co-created by the student, IBL is not met. Indirect service learning is more likely to align with IBL as students often engage on a research driven project with parameters established by their instructors and community partners. While the most extreme believers in IBL would find limitations based on the students’ more limited ability to shape their inquiry, the method, process, and applicability of this form of service learning fall in line with problem-based inquiry.

Moreover, indirect service learning experience often fit into a variety of disciplines and student learning experiences including capstones, community-based action research, service internships, and problem-based service learning (Heffernan, 2001). Many of these iterations of service learning follow the research progression described in the Inquiry Based Learning Process.  One strong alignment between Service Learning and IBL is that the service learning experience creates opportunity to maximize the integration of teaching and scholarship for faculty, by conducting research with students and community partners through community engaged scholarship (Bringle & Hatcher, 1995). However, intentional effort must be made by faculty who are seeking to bridge learning and scholarship with community partners to prevent exploitation and assure a relevant and reciprocal partnership.

One area of limitation between the two theories is the focus of learning as noted in the discussion above. IBL prioritizes student learning, whereas SL requires that instructor balance competing interests between students and community partners’ needs, ultimately limiting the level of control students’ have over their projects and experiences. Another major difference between the two learning philosophies is their orientation toward social justice. Service learning, as a scholarly field, is moving toward a social justice oriented approach toward instruction (see Butin, 2015; Mitchell, 2008; Stoecker, 2016) whereas little within the specific literature on IBL is speaking to equity. On the whole, service learning allows for further alignment of teaching and scholarly practices and for integration of inquiry-based student learning.


Aditomo, A., Goodyear, P., Bliuc, A. M., & Ellis, R. A. (2013). Inquiry-based learning in higher education: principal forms, educational objectives, and disciplinary variations. Studies in Higher Education38(9), 1239-1258.

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, S. S. Kenny (chair). Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities. State University of New York–Stony Brook, 1998.

Brew, A. (2012). Teaching and research: New relationships and their implications for inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development31(1), 101-114.

Butin, D. (2015). Dreaming of justice: Critical service-learning and the need to wake up. Theory Into Practice54(1), 5-10.

Healey, M., Kneale, P., & Bradbeer, J. (2005). Learning styles among geography undergraduates: an international comparison. Area37(1), 30-42.

Jennings, L. B. (2010). Inquiry-Based Learning. In Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent. (pp. 467-468). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Justice, C., Rice, J., Roy, D., Hudspith, B., & Jenkins, H. (2009). Inquiry-based learning in higher education: administrators’ perspectives on integrating inquiry pedagogy into the curriculum. Higher Education58(6), 841.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational psychologist41(2), 75-86.

Mills, J.E. and Treagust, D.F. (2003). Engineering education – is problem-based or project-based learning the answer? Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 11, pp. 2-16.

Mitchell, T. D. (2008). Traditional vs. critical service-learning: Engaging the literature to differentiate two models. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning14(2).

Pedaste, M., Mäeots, M., Siiman, L. A., De Jong, T., Van Riesen, S. A., Kamp, E. T., … & Tsourlidaki, E. (2015). Phases of inquiry-based learning: Definitions and the inquiry cycle. Educational research review14, 47-61.

Prince, M., & Felder, R. (2007). The many faces of inductive teaching and learning. Journal of college science teaching36(5), 14.

Spronken-Smith, R., Angelo, T., Matthews, H., O’Steen, B., & Robertson, J. (2007). How effective is inquiry-based learning in linking teaching and research. An international colloquim on international policies and practices for academic enquiry. Marwell, Winchester.

Stoecker, R. (2016). Liberating service learning and the rest of higher education civic engagement. Temple University Press.

Constitution Day

By Christine Lowe

Each year the Office of Public Engagement hosts Constitution Day. Constitution Day commemorates the actual signing of the United States Constitution which occurred on September 17th, 1787. All educational institutions that receive Federal funds are required to develop a Constitution Day program for their students. This program must coincide during the week commemorating the actual signing of the constitution.

SchmeiserThis year the Office of Public Engagement along with the Department of Political Science presented a two-part Constitution Day Program: Loving v. Virginia: At the Heart of Racial and Marriage Equality. The first part of the program occurred on September 18th, 2017 with a screening of the Oscar-nominated movie “Loving” in the Student Union Theater. This movie which depicts an interracial couple whose landmark legal battle for their right to marry would result in the Supreme Court’s historic 1967 decision: Loving v. Virginia.

The Constitution Day events continued on September 19th, 2017 with a student poster presentation and discussion with Susan Schmeiser, Ph.D., J.D. in the Wilbur Cross South Reading Room.

Dr. Susan Schmeiser is a faculty member of the UConn School of Law and holds a  Ph.D. in English Literature from Brown University, where she spent five years as a teaching assistant and advanced teaching fellow, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Students from Dr. Virginia Hettinger’s POLS 3837: Civic Rights and Legal Mobilization course created six posters for the event each with a specific perspective on the landmark decision. After the poster presentation, Dr. Schmeiser concluded the program with a presentation and discussion on the landmark decision.

2016-2017 Student Reflection

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Hello readers, my name is Mackenzie Rafferty and for the past academic year, I served as the Communications Assistant for UConn’s Office of Public Engagement. I’m quickly wrapping up my junior year at UConn and reflecting on the experience I had with at Office of Public Engagement this past year. I applied for this position over the summer of 2016, eager for the opportunity to engage in my first professional employment position at UConn.

At UConn, I’m studying both Political Science and Communication. These two areas of focus, when partnered together have aided in giving me a unique and creative voice. This voice, from the beginning of my education experience at UConn, craved an environment to be further curated and refined. The Office of Public Engagement seemed like the perfect match, and I couldn’t have been more correct. At the Office of Public Engagement, I was able to use the skills I learned through my communication courses in a way that furthered some of my very own political agendas and passions.

For those who need a brief refresher, the mission of UConn’s Office of Public Engagement is as follows: “Our mission is to assist in the development of engaged citizens through coordination, advocacy and capacity building for engagement activities.” Taken directly from our website, the mission of the Office of Public Engagement is full of promise for civic engagement and community development. This is accomplished through offering “service learning, engaged scholarship, university-assisted community schools, strategic partnerships, and communities as partners and collaborators.”

This office acts as a facilitative resource for faculty, staff, and students to incorporate this form of education and engagement into their academic journey through research, programs, etc. Together, this office aims to further the University’s impact on local communities with whom it engages, by enabling relationships and fostering long-term, reciprocal partnerships within the community.

Throughout the past two semesters, I’ve had first-hand experience this mission in action. Before my employment here, I had never been exposed to Service Learning at the University of Connecticut. Once exposed, my entire perspective of education and the potential role of the university had changed.

It’s important to add in that one of my classes during the Fall Semester of 2016 was coincidentally a Service Learning course. So, for the first time, I was in a Service Learning course and also working with the very office that made these courses possible in the University. The course I was enrolled in was Constitutional Rights and Liberties with Doctor Kimberly Bergendahl. Our Service Learning Component was to help the Office of Public Engagement hold their annual Constitution Day Celebration. If you’d like to read more about this particular event and how our class pulled it off, check out the article here: http://s.uconn.edu/3p0

This experience allowed for me to garner a better understanding of Service Learning and gather my own unique perspective. I mention this further in the article, but this element of Service Learning really transformed the classroom atmosphere and our student-teacher relationship. When the responsibility was put on us, as students, to curate this event and present it on our own, we were given an entirely new role in the classroom. At that moment, we were no longer strictly students, but collaborators with responsibility with a real, tangible, product to show as our own.

This is simply one example of Service Learning and how it is applied to courses in our University. Service Learning, as I learned this past year, is a discipline of education that can be applied to any area or focus of study. For example, I wrote an article on Dr. John Redden at the University of Connecticut and his Service Learning Science course. What was so amazing about Dr. Redden’s course, was that it partnered with a global-community partner. His partner was Jolly Lux, the founder of Guiding Light Orphans, a non-for profit organization based in Uganda. (My apologies for self-promoting, but this information is too good to keep all to myself). If interested, I urge you check out the article here: http://s.uconn.edu/3p1

Dr. Redden’s example of Service Learning really encapsulated the future potential that Service Learning can have for the University. Redden and his students created a service that reached far beyond the walls of the University of Connecticut; their impact can be felt across borders. Service-Learning doesn’t have to simply impact the local communities (despite that being a very important and beneficial goal), but it can reach far beyond into international and global affairs.

These are just two of an abundance of first-hand examples of Service Learning that I experienced during my time at the Office of Public Engagement. I’m eternally grateful for this position, as it instilled in me a knowledge that I could not have learned inside of a classroom. This knowledge is that there is more than one correct form of teaching. I also learned that education can have an effect far beyond the educator and student. Education has the potential to strengthen relationships outside of the university, create tangible products, and have a lasting charitable impact.

Additionally, Service Learning really transforms the student experience. With Service Learning, students become active “stakeholders” in their education, as often cited by my manager and mentor Julia Yakovich, the director of Service Learning here at the Office of Public Engagement. Yakovich is correct, this form of learning allows for students to take real responsibility and foster a sense of confidence and awareness that is crucial once entering the workforce. Additionally, Service Learning allows for students to create and strengthen bonds with their local community. Once created and strengthened, these bonds foster a potential for students to stay in their local communities post-graduation.

All in all, my experience at the University of Connecticut’s Office of Public Engagement has been extremely formative for me as a student-employee. I hope to take this knowledge and experience with me as I further strengthen my civic and political voice. I know that the Office of Public Engagement will continue to grow and foster community partnerships and student engagement, while also implementing a new, innovative, and vital pedagogy throughout the University.

UConn Cities Collaborative

By Johanna Tiarks

To coincide with the upcoming move of the Hartford Campus to its new Downtown Location, UConn Cities Collaborative has been working to build a platform to aggregate and disseminate information on volunteer and internship positions within Hartford. Launching in fall 2017, this platform will be available at the Office of Public Engagement website. The development of this platform has been a collaborative effort between many community-based organizations within Hartford and UCC. If you are interested in posting a position, please follow this link and fill out the form to publicize an opportunity.

Following the interest expressed after the launch and presentation of the Diversity Training Module in Spring 2017, UCC has been working to develop a classroom-based diversity curriculum for implementation in Service Learning and other courses. The Diversity Training Module was presented at the Eastern Region Campus Compact Conference hosted by New York University in March 2017. During this presentation, the need for an interdisciplinary curriculum to teach diversity in the classroom was a theme voiced by many attendees from the numerous universities represented. Starting in Fall 2017, the diversity curriculum will offer classroom-based instruction on salient issues of inequity occurring as a result of power differentials between groups of people holding minority status and those in positions of privilege. This curriculum will be available as a series of short lectures and discussions that can be utilized in and customized for any class. An implementer training is in development to assist professors who wish to incorporate this diversity curriculum into their course.

If you have any questions about the volunteer and internship platform or the developing diversity curriculum, please contact Johanna deLeyer-Tiarks at citiescollaborative@uconn.edu.

Spring Service Learning Event

By Barbara Jacoby

On Tuesday, April 4th 2017, The Office of Public Engagement held its spring Service Learning event. The focus of this event was to highlight Service Learning pedagogy as a driving economic force for the future of Connecticut. For the event, we were fortunate enough to have Barbara Jacoby as our keynote speaker for the event. Jacoby is the current director of commuter affairs and community service at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In addition to her role at the University of Maryland, Jacoby is also the adviser to the president for America Reads and the editor of the book Service-Learning in Higher Education. Due to her shining credentials, Jacoby is a highly sought after scholar and speaker in connection to Service Learning. As the keynote speaker, Jacoby related her personal experiences with Service Learning to introduce the various positive implications it can have on a community. These positive impacts were far-reaching and impacted the local communities through business growth and economic development. During her speech, she defined Service Learning for the audience. According to Jacoby, Service Learning is “a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities for reflection designed to achieve desired learning outcomes.” She argued that Service Learning “adds depth and breadth to meaning by challenging simplistic conclusions.”  This reflection in Service Learning is all about challenging these conclusions and comparing and examining different perspectives.

She noted, “civic engagement is the mechanism that connects economic development, and education for democratic citizenship… economic development in the higher education context is the philosophy and practice of generating measurable economic returns in communities through university engagement.” She gave examples of various ways in which Service Learning had impacted the economy of their local communities.

She gave an example from a town in rural Tennessee, near East Tennessee State University. The small town’s economy was suffering due to the new interstate, which bypassed the town. Due to the interstate, the town’s main street was no longer the main road. Thus, many of the local businesses suffered and had to close down. One of these local businesses was a theater, which had to shut down due to lack of business. Jacoby segued, “here’s where the reciprocity of Service Learning comes in.” At the same time, the university was also facing budget cuts, both the history and theater department weren’t attracting enough students, and there were rumors of the departments being cut.

In response, a history and theater professor joined together and collaborated to create an interdisciplinary Service Learning course. The course required students to research local history and write plays based on their research. Thus, the students created plays and presented the plays in the main street theater. Jacoby noted, “Eventually, their productions grew large local audiences, and also began to attract tourists.” Jacoby also discussed how the revitalization of the theater was catalyst to the revitalization of Main Street in general; “Main Street has changed and developed because of this service learning class.”

Connecticut Innovation Nights at the Ballard

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Monday, April 10th, was the first new product showcase for Connecticut Innovation Nights. This event was Connecticut Innovation Nights first event in a projected series of events dedicated to highlighting innovation for local start-ups and entrepreneurs. This event was very promising for Angelina Capalbo, who was inspired by the success of Mass Innovation Nights, out of Massachusetts. Capalbo modeled the structure of the night off of the wildly successful formula of her predecessors in Massachusetts. Ultimately, this event aims to feature and emphasize local businesses and entrepreneurs to boost exposure for these noteworthy locals.

This event, was co-collaborated with our office, the office of Public Engagement and hosted at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. The doors opened at 6:00 pm, and lasted well after 8:00 pm that evening. The Ballard was adorned with its beautiful puppetry displays that highlighted the creative and innovative in the room. In addition, refreshments were offered from Love Art Sushi, Subway, Insomnia Cookies, Gansett Wraps, and Wing Stop.

The event involved ten entrepreneurs, all of whom lined the Ballard with tables, prototypes, and posters to help display their products. The products varied and all found their special niche in the entrepreneurial market. Out of the ten entrepreneurs, four were able to pitch their products on stage in front of an audience. These four were voted on prior to the event, and had the wonderful opportunity to describe their product and tell their unique story in three minutes or less for the event goers.

The first of these products to be pitched was B2 Products. They pitched one of their various products called the Mobility Assistance Sling (MAS). Their slogan, “innovation you can count on,” is highly representative of the nature of their products. They design products that aim to solve problems encountered by Public Safety and Healthcare professionals. Their slings help both patients and providers as acting as lifting aids for patients who are unable to get up and need assistance. Their brochure noted that this sling aims to “reduce back injury through improved lifting ergonomics…safer and more dignified for the patient than improvised lifting aids.” These products are geared mostly towards fire-rescue and EMS agencies, nursing and medical personnel, rehabilitation services. The slings work best for elderly, disabled, and obese patient care where lifting may be problematic for both the patient and provider.The second product to be pitched was the Badger Medical collar by CEO and inventor Timothy Andrew Kussow. The Badger Medical Collar is a bariatric immobilization/extrication collar. Disposable, easy to use, and lightweight, this collar is designed for patients who anatomically cannot fit in the traditional cervical collar. This product is a tear-to-fit product that allows for quick mobilization. As outlined on their brochure, the product “is intended to support cervical spine in a neutral position during transportation, in combination with other cervical and full body immobilization devices.”

Third, Mark Keeley from OBVIA pitched his “superior wind turbine rotor blades & semi-shroud.” Their patented blades are “lightweight, energy efficient, cost effective, environmentally friendly, visually appealing and scalable.” Their team consist of the two Keely brothers who combined have over sixty years of wind energy experience as well as design engineering and finance experience. Their product was the winner and judge’s favorite of the CT Next Entrepreneur Innovation award from last May. Additionally, they were featured in the Hartford Courant’s startup story July 6th, 2016.

Last to present was the company RecordMe, who’s business model is focused around a hassle-free recording which allows for artists to make more of a profit while making and playing their music. Their motto is, “record anything, record anywhere.” Their recording device allows for artists to reserve a box that is built and shipped to them. After the event, the box is shipped back to the company where they mix, master, and distribute the recording to everyone who placed on order—the artists only pay for the recordings they sell. They offer various boxes and ways to purchase, or lease them. They offer home boxes, studio boxes, and professional boxes. Based in Torrington, CT, RecordMe has found a unique niche to the local music scene that also transcends far beyond the CT boarders.

These four products and businesses were simply a fraction of the innovators and products featured at the event. The turnout was promising for the future of Connecticut Innovation Nights. Ultimately, this evening spotlighted the immense potential this event has for Connecticut and local entrepreneurs. These events tap into the power of social media and networking to foster a community of inspired local innovators to connect, pitch their ideas, and bolster a greater following for their businesses and products.


Service Learning’s Global Impact: Guiding Light Orphans

By Mackenzie Rafferty

Last semester, I had the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with Jolly Lux, the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Guiding Light Orphans (GLO). GLO was founded in 2014 by Lux and her husband, Kurt. Through charitable donations, GLO aims to provide support to HIV/AIDS orphans and their caretakers in rural Uganda. By providing basic health care and health care training, they hope to implement skills for self-sustainability throughout these villages to break the cycle of hunger and poverty in this region.

Last year, the Office of Public Engagement held a Service Learning Expo that gave Lux and other community partners a platform to speak about their charitable efforts. The Expo was the first step in implementing a community partnership between GLO and UConn. Here, Lux connected with Dr. John Redden from the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology. Upon their meeting, Redden expressed interest in partnering GLO with his science-based writing course, where he planned to create science-based infographics for non-scientists.

Lux recalled her excitement towards this idea, “the education component is key to brining awareness and breaking stigmas.” She discussed how the infographics could help educate villagers to take care of their patients in a useful, beneficial, and safe manner.

Dr. John Redden, in an interview, further explained his relationship with GLO. In regards to his course, he wanted to implement a writing component that focused on “communicating with non-scientists about science… it’s more likely that people have conversations in elevators, and with their friends and families.” Redden hoped for his students to master this type of communication, focusing less on jargon and more on the basic communication of ideas.

Redden realized that as a scientist, it would be difficult to evaluate non-science writing by himself. At this point, he understood his need for a community partner. Roughly two years ago, with interest in Service Learning pedagogy, Redden applied for a Service Learning Faculty Fellowship and was accepted.

Upon his acceptance, Redden noted, “I was able to develop a whole course around service learning. The fellowship gave me the vocabulary to describe the things I wanted to do.” Redden was embarking on a very unique path, as life sciences and service learning are rarely combined at UConn. “It was interesting to pilot a new way of teaching to physiology students,” Redden noted.

Redden also discussed his meeting with Lux at the Expo last year. The idea of a community partner was extremely interesting to him. Additionally, the mission of GLO was “really compelling to me and I knew that it would be for the students also.” Redden noted how the various facets of GLO and their Clinic inspired and pushed their partnership.

According to GLO’s website, they tackle health care in a two-part approach, the first part being their semi-annual medical camps. Held twice a year, these camps offer direct and urgently needed aid to patients. Health screenings, immunizations, and education on disease prevention are just a few examples of the care offered at these camps. These camps serve approximately 4,000 patients in two days with a team of about 100 volunteers.

Due to GLO’s partnership with other health care providers, they’ve acquired medication for a decent cost. For roughly $3,000, they can screen and provide treatment for approximately 4,000 patients. When worked out, that means that care for one patient is roughly $0.75.

The second tier of their two-part approach is their resident Village Health Teams (VHTs). These teams are community-owned and consist of roughly one man or woman per every two villages. These VHTs deliver their health care services year-round and are trained, monitored, and evaluated. They’ve enhanced health care structure of local communities and increased trained leaders and community members. GLO has trained 10 individuals to deliver basic health care services to 26 villages. In addition to this training, GLO has given VHTs bicycles and solar powered lanterns for their traveling.

Redden found this mission extremely compelling, leading him to form his relationship with GLO for his service learning course. “Our specific project,” Redden explained, “was to try to help them [GLO] train their community healthcare workers to better educate community members.” During the interview, Redden displayed materials similar to those that GLO had used to teach their VHTs prior to their partnership. The materials, he pointed out, had factual inaccuracies and stereotypes that he believed could hinder the education process.

“We thought we could basically take this information and put it in a way that is a lot more visually attractive and really to rely on visuals, knowing that most of the people were not English speakers.” His students worked on infographics in various areas. One group worked on creating pamphlets for what to do when someone is having a seizure.

“There’s a huge stigma, people think that they’re possessed by evil spirits. It really fit in with the theme of the course, to try to address a lot of misconceptions that non-scientists have.” This group tried to explain what a seizure was in very simple language. They described causes, what you’re likely to see while someone is having a seizure, and also debunked a lot of misconceptions.

Redden and his class hope to print and send their graphics to GLO so that they can be distributed to community healthcare workers and aid them in their training. Redden is currently looking for a translator to translate the information into Swahili so they can be useful to the villagers as well.

When it comes to the students, Redden hopes that his course “helps them connect and apply the things they’re learning in their coursework better.” This course gives his students an opportunity to practice and implement skills that are developed in the classroom almost immediately afterwards. They don’t have to “wait for this delayed gratification that comes from graduate school or medical school,” Redden added.

Lux, while excited and grateful for the partnership with Dr. Redden, is always looking to connect with other departments within the UConn community. She’s recently spoken with both the School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing. One of her other main needs deals with their clean water initiative, which aims at implementing irrigation to help the villages gain access to clean water. The Office of Public Engagement is working on connecting Lux with the School of Engineering in hopes of fostering a new partnership for this important initiative

While extremely impactful, GLO is a small nonprofit organization, meaning that they are constantly in search of volunteers and fundraising. Lux detailed their need for help, “fundraising for us as a nonprofit has always been a challenge. How do you keep your promises to the people and be able to move forward without funds you need?” Lux noted that they always could use fundraising help, especially from younger voices.

Lux noted that the key to their success was “listening to the people and giving them a voice.” She stressed the importance she placed on asking the community members what their needs were. Lux thought they needed education, but the community members asked for help in health care. Listening to the community members was the key to success for GLO. Humbled by her experiences, Lux is thrilled about her partnership with UConn. “To me,” Lux noted at the end of the interview, “it looks like a win-win scenario for everyone.”

When asked what her advice would be to anyone hoping to dedicate their life to social work, Lux gave a humbled and simple response: “Look around, look around yourself and see the things that are out there and need to be addressed. Go in with an open mind, ask questions and be willing to listen. It’s imperative to listen to what is around you and to the people you’re looking to help.”

For those interested, GLO is always accepting volunteers for events. Lux expressed that even the simple act of talking about GLO with your friends helps them in the long-run, “the more voices, the better, the more people we can reach.” All information regarding volunteering and aid for GLO can be found on their website, www.guidinglightoprhans.org.