Campus News

2020 Service-Learning Excellence Awards

Service-Learning Excellence Awards recognize faculty for innovative service-learning course design as well as scholarship that stems from academic service-learning work. The 2020 award recipients in the Service-Learning Teaching Excellence category are Sarah Shannon and Kristina Jaskyte Bahr. They are being recognized for excellence in developing, implementing and sustaining academic service-learning opportunities for UGA students in domestic and/or international settings. Lance Palmer, the 2020 award recipient in the Service-Learning Research Excellence category, is being recognized for advancing service-learning scholarship. Since 2011, 27 faculty have received these awards.

Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award

Sarah Shannon, associate professor, sociology department, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Sarah Shannon

Since 2017, Sarah Shannon has taught the “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program,” SOCI 4470S, which brings together a group of students from UGA and a group of residents from the Athens-Clarke County Jail to exchange ideas and perceptions about crime and justice, the criminal justice system, and imprisonment, from both personal and sociological perspectives. Through facilitated dialogue, academic reading, reflective writing and a collaborative, class-defined project, her students—from both “inside” and “outside”—learn and work together. The Clarke County Sheriff’s Office calls her class “a shining example of cooperation,” and past students regularly attest to the learning and impact of the class.

A past Service-Learning Fellow and Lilly Teaching Fellow, she has been recognized with UGA’s Creative Teaching Award and the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2019 as well as the Franklin College’s Sandy Beaver Excellence in Teaching Award (2017).

Kristina Jaskyte Bahr, associate professor, School of Social Work

Kristina Jaskyte Bahr

For more than 15 years, Kristina Jaskyte Bahr has integrated community-based components into graduate courses in social work and the master’s in nonprofit management and leadership, including Design Thinking for Social Innovation, Innovation and Change in Nonprofit Organizations, Theory and Management of Nonprofit Organizations and Managing Volunteers and Staff in Nonprofit Organizations.

Working with dozens of local nonprofits, some 500 graduate students to date have designed and implemented program evaluations, fundraising plans, volunteer handbooks and recruitment materials intended to help the organizations build capacity and better serve community needs. A 2018-2019 Service-Learning Fellow, she was also recognized as a 2019 University Innovation Fellow by Stanford University’s Hassno Plattner Institute of Design (

Service-Learning Research Excellence Award

Lance Palmer, professor, department of financial planning, housing and consumer economics, College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Lance Palmer

Over the past decade, Lance Palmer has co-authored numerous articles, book chapters, conference presentations and proceedings relating to the impacts on students and the community from innovative pedagogy for financial education, including service-learning, video-based financial coaching and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program.

This program, a collaboration between the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the Georgia United Credit Union and the Internal Revenue Service, also engages students in Palmer’s graduate and undergraduate service-learning courses in applied financial planning with low- and moderate-income clients. He has received over $130,000 in grants supporting VITA and collaborated on over $10 million in externally funded projects.

Palmer received UGA’s Engaged Scholar Award in 2013 and is a past participant in the Service-Learning Research Faculty Learning Community, a Lilly Teaching Fellow and a 2009 recipient of the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.