Quality of Learning
Chad Green, SRSC 2013
Student and Peru Explorer
I am extremely grateful to have discovered the SRSC program. The everlasting imprint left on my life has been tremendous from the broader horizons revealed to the access of extensive information regarding numerous social issues. Opportunities were created for me that I had never dreamed of, such as conducting field research in the rainforest of the Peruvian Amazon. In the spring of 2014, I'll be living in Iquitos, along the Amazon, where I've traveled three times. I'll be working on grant-writing for Project Amazonas.
Kristy Howell, SRSC 2013
Sustainability Education and Engagement Coordinator
Overland Park, KS
Thanks to my completion of the SRSC MA, I’ve joined the Center for Sustainability at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. As Education and Engagement Coordinator, I work to support two student groups, assist faculty as they develop sustainability-related curriculum, and support national webinars for other community college sustainability leaders. As an advisor to the Student Sustainability Committee, I support administration of the Sustainability Initiatives Fund and advise a group of 13 students who are active in campus improvements, supporting new technology, and bringing student-designed projects to fruition. The Student Environmental Alliance is more like a traditional club – with fun campus projects (bike blended smoothies, solar roasted marshmallows) and service opportunities. As a Center, we offer mini-grants to faculty in support of curriculum development, include discussion of our waste diversion and energy management programs in new employee orientations, and also work with students to promote undergraduate research in sustainability. Our student project—an examination of student understanding of sustainable practices on campus—was selected for inclusion in a sustainability-related exchange program with students in St. Petersburg, Russia in May, 2014. I’ll be able to travel with our team to present their research and learn more about education for sustainability with our Russian cohort and their faculty.
Working at JCCC is, quite literally, my dream job; it’s the job I hoped for when I began the SRSC MA in its first cohort. In part because I’m supporting students and faculty who are working to advance sustainable practices on campus and in the classroom, I find myself discussing work from the program or using information from our coursework at least once or twice a week. I couldn’t have asked for a better fit for my background, my interests, or my knowledge, as honed by study at WKU.
Cara Howell, SRSC 2014
Community Development Specialist
I walked into this program with only the vaguest notion of what I was getting myself into. What I have learned since that first day has been transformative. The principles and basic values of Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities form the core of the way I now approach not only my education, but also my career and my everyday interactions with my friends and coworkers. Through the SRSC program, I have gained a language that empowers me to help empower others. Changing lives, creating a better future, and ultimately helping others: that is what SRSC means to me.
Florence Prickett, SRSC 2014
Public Safety Communications Dispatcher/
Acting Supervisor for the Huntsville Fire Department
The M.A. in SRSC has helped me understand what's really socially important in life--the people...I searched high and low for a Master's program that would sufficiently complement my B.A. and Gender & Women's Studies Graduate Certificate. Just when I almost gave in and applied for a sociology program, I was told about the M.A. in SRSC. It could not have been more perfect! This program was what I needed to bring my education full circle. It has changed the way I see everything around me and has helped me understand that sustainability is about much more than just recycling."
Leigh Gaskin, SRSC 2014
Washington State University
While it may seem that my interests are far reaching, I feel that one of the best concepts learned through the SRSC is how to dream big, to think about a world where equality and equity thrives and drives a nation, but also to understand how to cope when your goals and vision are not realized. Fortunately, after the program I have an increased ability to understand complex structures that initiated and further systems of oppression within society, government, and beyond. The critical thinking skills amassed during my learning experience and the ability to practice these skills through social change projects have allowed me to flourish professionally.
Rebecca Schwartz, SRSC 2014
Study Abroad Director
Texas Tech, Texas
The SRSC Master's program at WKU guides students to become active citizens in both local and global communities. Hands-on research is key to developing innovative approaches, and the SRSC program encourages and aids students in getting that kind of experience. I would like to thank the ICSR and SRSC program specifically for allowing me the opportunity to conduct on site research in my field of applied ethics. Spending resources to interview prostitutes in Amsterdam, or felons in Kentucky, can be a hard sell to people outside academia. At the very least, it raises a few eyebrows. But my advisers supported me, believed in my research, and helped me achieve me goals. Possibly the best part of the SRSC program is the diverse student population. Working professionals, fresh-faced graduates, and people interested in changing careers, all provide unique outlooks on the various topics discussed. Additionally, being able to discuss with people who have widely different backgrounds and life experiences encourages students to look at the issues in new and unique ways. Being exposed to different ideas and cultures help broaden my world view not just as a researcher, but as an individual. I think the things I've learned as part of this program have made me a better person.
Jacqueline Adams, SRSC 2014
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Bowling Green, Kentucky
I always felt something was missing from my education. I never felt I was "doing" anything to create changes within the system. I knew I was learning, but I never felt as if I was "doing." I struggled to complete my BA and it was during these seven years (yeah...long time) that I realized I was not catered to during my time in school. I felt like students that fell behind weren't students that didn't care, but instead we were students the educational system didn't care for. While completing my first year in the Social Responsibilities and Sustainable Communities MA program I was fortunate enough to come across a Graduate Assistantship in the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility. I was hired as a G.A./Coordinator for the Public Achievement program. This program permits students K-12 the ability to become active citizens by addressing student-identified issues. In addition to coordinating I coached at two schools (an elementary school and a high school). I also assisted Dr. Ardrey with Project Freedom School, a class offered through the ICSR. It is an Afrocentric classroom and like Public Achievement student-identified issues are addressed. In P.A. the elementary students created art out of recyclables in order to address environmental awareness and sustainability. The high school students confronted unhealthy food choices in their cafeteria by working with student groups to organize the refurbishing of the greenhouse and the sale of organic/local food to the cafeteria. In Project Freedom School young people voiced their desire for a place on campus to feel at home (they received the "OK" from the dean at WKU to start a Black Culture Center and are currently searching for funding). In addition to these opportunities made possible by the SRSC program, I co-founded Hilltoppers 4 Choice (another student-led group sponsored by the Gender & Women's Studies program) and directed the 2012-2013 ICSR Film Series.
For the first time in my life I found a home in the academic world where I could address education and civic engagement. Students were not just learning theories, enjoying literature, and discussing American institutions; they were active in their communities attempting to make sustainable and progressive changes while still learning in the classroom. These environments created a great deal of empowerment. I saw changes in young people as they developed a stronger relationship to their education. I saw changes in myself. For the first time I was being asked to be an active leader. I was appreciated for my ideas and above all I began to understand my purpose. I felt empowered alongside my students because as they learned, I learned.
This year I'm starting a new position as a Graduate Teaching Instructor with the GWS program. I'll be teaching GWS 200 during the spring 2014 semester! The course that brought me to the SRSC program (GWS 200) I will now be teaching! I'm a student that fell behind and lost my way during my undergraduate years. Today I'm a successful student who found a home in the Diversity and Community Studies Department. The Social Responsibilities and Sustainable Communities program through their faculty and staff, campus organizations, and specialized attention have taken great care of my academic and activist goals. I was lost without direction and the Social Responsibilities and Sustainable Communities program, the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, Gender and Women's Studies, and the Diversity and Community Studies Department gave me direction and purpose!
The faculty and staff involved in SRSC, ICSR, and GWS are not your average teachers. They want students to succeed and they want to help. I would make it clear that no matter their issues there is a way to work around them. I know you'll say all this, but it really is true. SRSC faculty go above and beyond to help with funding, travel, emotional trauma (haha), careers, etc. Nobody gets left behind in these classrooms! :) Thank you."
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