Campus News

2018 Service-Learning Excellence Awards

Three faculty members have been awarded ­Service-Learning Excellence Awards for 2018.

Established in 2011, the awards recognize faculty for innovative service-learning course design as well as scholarship that stems from academic service-learning work. Two awards are being presented in the Service-Learning Teaching Excellence category, recognizing excellence in developing, implementing and ­sustaining academic service-learning opportunities for UGA students in domestic and/or international settings. A third award is presented for Service-Learning Research Excellence and advancing service-learning scholarship.

The 2018 Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award recipients are Melissa Landers-Potts, a senior lecturer the human development and family science department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences; Jerry Shannon, an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the geography department in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the financial planning, housing and consumer economics department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Abigail Borron, an assistant professor in the agricultural leadership, education and communication department in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Melissa Landers-Potts

Landers-Potts, a 2013-2014 Service-Learning Fellow, has engaged hundreds of students since 2012 in online and face-to-face versions of her Adolescent Development service-learning course. Each semester, her students apply theory-based principles of adolescent development to service-learning projects, mentoring and tutoring adolescents at the Classic City High School as well as serving as trained wellness coaches through the iPrevail platform, offering online emotional support and resource referral to adolescents from around the world.

Her students report that these service-learning and reflective activities allow them to “see many of the issues discussed in class first-hand” while tutoring, and to “directly apply what I am learning about in class to my role as a wellness coach.” Another student said, “I truly feel like combining the many different things I have learned through wellness coaching with course material has enhanced my learning and increased my global perspective in a way that other courses have not done.”

Landers-Potts has presented nationally and locally on service-learning and online learning and is a past Online Learning Fellow and past CTL Writing Fellow.

Jerry Shannon

Shannon, a 2015-2016 Service-Learning Fellow and past Lilly Teaching Fellow, developed and teaches a split-level geography service-learning course in Community Geographic Information Systems. In these courses, his students learn principles of undertaking and communicating geographic research, applying GIS and data visualization methods to real-world problems for local community partners including the Athens Wellbeing Project, the Clarke County School District’s local school governance teams, Community Connection of Northeast Georgia, and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

Shannon also has mentored undergraduate research through CURO, engaging students in learning about food insecurity, urban development and housing issues through community-requested GIS projects benefiting the Cobbham Historic District, the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, Bike Athens and local food banks.

Abigail Borron

Borron has published and presented award-winning research in agricultural communication based on a pedagogical research design and methodological framework known as the “culture-centered approach,” which she developed.

In addition to applying the culture-centered approach to agricultural communication service-learning coursework and community-based research, Borron is working with the J.W. Fanning Institute as a Public Service ­Fellow, helping develop ways to evaluate the social impact of leadership development programs. She also has published on critical reflection in service-learning and collaborated on service-learning research methodologies including Q Methodology and Photovoice. A Service-Learning Fellow in 2015-2016, Borron is part of the Faculty Learning Community on Service-Learning Research.

—Shannon O. Wilder